Once everyone’s favorite cabby in the Cresent City, Mem Shannon is now rapidly making tracks toward the same level of popularity in the contemporary blues idiom.
Making his home in Memphis (where is the home of the blues, anyway?), but most assuredly not driving a cab, Shannon’s new release benefits from the brilliant production work of Robert Cray vet Dennis Walker, the dynamic pronunciations of the Memphis Horns, and the timeless reverberations of the legendary Ardent Studios.
If you’re looking for lotsa licks, this isn’t the CD for you. While he would have to be catagorized as a guitarist who slings his notes sparingly, Shannon’s work is a study in how the guitar can embellish an extremely strong set of “Nawlins” pipes.
His vocal style certainly brings to mind the great Brook Benton, and one might think they’d be his commercial strength; it would be great to hear more stringing. What you hear on this release is Walker’s design on making Shannon’s name a household blues word.
Full of beautifully recorded, southerly, soulful tracks with just the right amount of tension and release, Memphis In The Morning should put Shannon in some kind of nationwide indigo illumination, and he sure ain’t no hack. See shanchie.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.