21st Century Blues
The multifaceted, New Orleans-based King, a formidable blues guitarist-singer-songwriter and sometimes actor (he’s appeared in the films Ray and O Brother, Where Art Thou?), blends acoustic and electric blues styles on this cathartic outing (his 13th studio recording) while also making some pointed political statements in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The meditative opener, “What Would Jesus Do?,” the gospel flavored “Faith,” the stinging slow blues “Baptized in Dirty Water” and the melancholy “Flow Mississippi Flow” are all vivid reminders of what happened on that fateful day (Aug. 29, 2005) when the levees broke and flooded the Crescent City. King makes his guitar gently weep on the minor-key dirge “St. James Infirmary,” and he strikes a poignant note on “When Magnolias Bloom,” a love letter from a Louisiana soldier fighting in Iraq.
King includes faithful covers of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and the Louis Armstrong anthem “What a Wonderful World,” and he dredges up the spirit of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau on his haunting “Like a Hurricane (Ghost of Marie Laveau).”