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Coyote Slim - Out in the Tules


11 tracks/41:34

This is the second recording I have reviewed by the San Jose-based, acoustic bluesman Coyote Slim. The first, South Bay Jive, got a very enthusiastic write-up with my comments focusing on his powerful voice and outstanding guitar playing. My assessment held up through several listens and the disc received a hearty recommendation.

Slim’s latest release does not fare quite as well. It is another straightforward affair, with Slim on vocal and guitar, performing eight original songs and three covers of classic blues tunes. His slide work on the resonator guitar remains quite compelling, especially on Roosevelt Sykes “Trouble & Whiskey Blues”. But the performances on the traditional tunes “Shake “Em on Down” and “Sloppy Drunk” suffer from an overly disjointed rhythmic flow.

Slim’s nimble picking is showcased on the original, “Pow Wow Woman Blues”, his deep voice blending nicely with the bright guitar sound. Another strong effort can be heard on “If Trouble Was Money”, which sports a syncopated beat. “CRB Blues” relates Slim’s suffering at the hands of an unrelenting boss man eager to dock a worker’s pay for any perceived infraction. Once again Slim creates a potent musical backdrop with his authoritative guitar picking.

Other tracks bring focus to several areas where this disc falls short. Slim has a deep voice with plenty of strength but it comes up short on expressiveness due to having a very narrow range. That limitation combined with material that lacks rich lyrical content is a hurdle that can’t be overcome, even with Slim’s stellar guitar work added to the mix. The performances on songs like “Leavin’ San Jose Blues”, “Persimmon Pickin’ Blues” and the title track fail to impress, with nothing to really distinguish one from the other.

Coyote Slim has demonstrated in the past that he can put together a quality recording. While his latest has its moments, it falls short of achieving the success of his previous effort due to weaker material and a vocal delivery that varies little from track to track. Here’s hoping that Slim will get back to his winning ways on his next release.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

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