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Stringbean – Layin’ Low

Blues Leaf Records

15 tracks; 59.12 minutes

Although credited to Stringbean only, this is a band album by Stringbean and the Stalkers who come from New Jersey. Stringbean is Ken Sorensen, guitar, harp and vocals, with guitar by Joe Murphy, upright bass by Dan Mulvey, drums Sim Cain and keys Neil Thomas. All material is written by Ken except for covers of Muddy’s “Mean Red Spider” and Leadbelly’s “On a Monday”.

Whilst it is great to see bands attempt their own material I felt there was not enough variety of pace to sustain interest throughout. Some of the tunes have a hypnotic sound, a little like hearing “On the road again” for the first time (try “Going Over The Hill” or “Showplace Boogie” as an example). Several tracks follow a similar pattern, so I looked for ones where there were some different tones to the disc. Strangely (as it is not something I usually enjoy) one of the tracks that is a bit different was track 7 “Off My Back” which has a reggae groove but it stands out here simply for not following the usual pattern.

“The Rain Outside” is an acoustic tune with some effective harp underpinning a slow, sad tune. Title tune “Lay Low” has a more upbeat approach and a good guitar riff running through the song. I enjoyed both these tunes, as well as the energetic, almost country feel of Leadbelly’s “On a Monday”. Overall I found the CD tough going, even after several plays.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He went on his first Legendary Blues Cruise in January 2010 and had such a good time he will be back in 2011! 


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