Blues veteran Joe Beard weaves an old-school spell on the aptly named Dealin'. Beard's urgent, soulful vocal delivery and eccentric Delta-styled turns on electric guitar (most pronounced on his stirring, unaccompanied, Lightnin' Hopkins-flavored originals "Holding a Losing Hand" and "If I Get Lucky") speak loudly and eloquently of his Mississippi roots. Like other real-deal bluesmen, he possesses inherently all the things you just can't teach in school or learn from instructional videos. Beard is capably supported here by a crew of talented and seasoned admirers in drummer Per Hanson, bassist Rod Carey, guitarist Duke Robillard, pianist-organist Bruce Katz and Muddy Waters alum Jerry Portnoy, who blows a mean blues harp on several tracks. Beard plays and sings with honesty and authority on down-home originals like "That 'So-Called' Friend of Mine" and "Three Day Love Affair," along with covers of Willie Cobb's "You Don't Love Me Anymore," Jimmy Reed's "The Bitter Seed" and Pearl Wood's "Just Like a Fish," which carries the playful lines: "You know you got me hooked/and it sure feels great/It's not the things you say/it's what you use for bait." From start to finish, Beard's third recording for AudioQuest is a gem.