There’s a good chance the opening licks of “Lone Wolf Blues” will knock you off your chair – or at least give you whiplash as you seek the source of such a wondrous sound. Tom Feldmann is a master acoustic blues guitarist, specializing in the country blues and gospel sounds of the 1920s through ’40s, and he displays his expert craft throughout this ﬁne CD.
Before getting to the music, it should be noted that the audio ﬁdelity is nothing short of stunning. Feldmann might as well be sitting in your living room or car – there’s an immediacy to the sound that is startling. Kudos to producer Mark Thomas Stockert of Underwood Studios in Minneapolis for capturing Feldmann’s music with such stark honesty.
The tracks jump off this CD like you’re in a juke joint in the Mississippi Delta: “We Have Overcome,” “Special Streamline,” and “Oh Glory, How Happy I Am” are supreme celebrations of acoustic blues. As well as an expert ﬁngerstylist and ragtime picker, Feldmann is also a strong singer, his gravely voice lending authentic credence to his classic blues renditions.
The traditional ballad “Delia” is simply beautiful, not just for the words and melody, but also Tom’s perfectly paced ﬁngerpicking. Blind Boy Fuller’s “Homesick And Lonesome Blues” is a great display of his bottleneck playing – it’s sharp, hot, and full of rural soul. “Guitar Rag” is an uptempo vamp of ﬁngerstyle slide virtuosity that speaks to music from another era of guitar history. Even in this age of iPads, GPS, and cloud computing, it’s hard not to be moved by such a warm, human performance.
In the liner notes, the guitarist credits Son House, Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, Charlie Patton, and others for his inspiration. Feldmann does them sweet justice.
This just might be the blues album of the year.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.