Words by Russell Carstens

Buddy Guy‘s new album Born To Play Guitar begins with the title track: a spoken-word autobiography about his upbringing, travels and how he was born to play the guitar because “the blues [were] running through my veins.” Piano tickles kick in, followed by a gentle blues shuffle, while Guy does what he does best on his “bad machine” that he “makes scream.”

“Wear You Out” features Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top as a guest vocalist. It’s heavier than typical blues, in a Texas hard-rock style. On “Back Up Mama,” Guy explains his back-up plan for love gone astray: “I’ve got a back up mama for when number one is not around,” referring to this as “love insurance. ” The upbeat “Too Late” features guest Kim Wilson playing some mean, distorted harmonica, While “Whiskey, Beer & Wine” is a funky nod to the drinkers out there. Guy sings, “You can solve your problems one drink at a time / You can fix anything over whiskey, beer and wine.”

The standout track “Crying Out of One Eye” has an almost-swirly, dark and psychedelic Black Keys vibe, with a bit of seventies soul straight off the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Guy keeps the psychedelic vibe alive on “Turn Me Wild,” where a Wah/echo-infused solo soars after he sings, “When I was young I stayed in line,” in fear of his mother’s broomstick, which “wasn’t for sweeping.” On “(Baby) You Got What It Takes,” Joss Stone and Guy have a back and forth about what kind of woman can knock him off his feet. They have a natural chemistry — it’s easy to hear that they had fun collaborating.

Guy gets deep on “Crazy World,” lamenting that, “Someday they’re gonna sell us the very air that we breathe,” contemplating how insensible war, politics and other messy ordeals seem. It’s backed up by guitar soloing that mirrors the echo and despair of the lyrics. “Flesh & Bone” (with Van Morrison on guest vocals) is a tribute to B.B. King. Morrison and Guy keep things contemplative in singing about how once a person dies, they still live on in spirit because, “This life is more than flesh and bone.”

“Come Back Muddy” closes the album, with Guy reminiscing about his old friend Muddy Waters over piano and acoustic guitar that is mournful, yet full of life — fueled by the times the two shared together. Guy’s blues guitar is the thread that ties the album together. Born To Play Guitar covers more than just blues territory. It’s lyrical themes and emotive guitar playing cover the entire range of human emotions.

Buddy Guy
‘Born To Play Guitar’
© July 31st, 2015



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