Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson -- "Haunted"

Matt Baxter & Jake Sampson are both excellent musicians with long track records of playing with other artists. Baxter has played with Price Buster and Longhorn Slim and Procol Harum's Gary Brooker and Donnie Osmond. Sampson has played with  Barry Levenson and many others. They are now based in San Francisco.

On this release, Sampson plays bass and sings, Baxter plays guitar, slide guitar and dobro. Guests include Tony Coleman on drums on one track, Dave Pellicciaro on Hammond B-3 organ on one track, and Simon Russell on piano on one track. The ten tracks, all written by the artists, are contemporary acoustic delta style blues. If you like the old Robert Johnson songs, or Son House, or the first Hot Tuna album, you will like this--these guys have re-created the good stuff, without using a hundred year old recording techniques or really old microphones. Instead of making it sound old, they make it sound great.

Sampson sounds like a younger John Lee Hooker or Taj Mahal. His bass playing is rich and deep, augmented by great playing Coleman and Pelliciaro on "Don't It Make You Feel Good" and by Simon Russell's piano on "Take Me Back Home." Baxter is a great guitar player throughout, and he never overplays. This release shows both musicians to great advantage, without any artifice or ego. Everything is direct and simple, but to truly unwrap the talent of what has been created here, you might have to turn it up a little--and listen a little harder than usual.

My favorite tracks here are the title track, with great guitar and vocal, and "Highway 54," which drew me in at first listen. "Jaime Lynn" stands out with a country feel, and "Dusty Mule" may be the best song--with everything absolutely perfect.

You can buy this cd at or at Amazon. 

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