Grady Champion: Payin’ for My Sins

Grady Champion makes a strong debut with Payin’ for My Sins. The rough-voiced singer and commanding blues harpist belts with gritty authority and gospel intensity on this set of originals produced by Dennis Walker. Champion roars with raw abandon on the in-your-face opener “I’m Smiling Again” and the raucous “My Rooster Is King.” He also demonstrates a silky, soulful side on Stax-ish ballads like “You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do” and “Good As New.” He updates the traditional blues “Goin’ Down Slow” with a modern day vignette of life in the fast lane, summoning up the oratory powers of a Baptist preacher addressing the flock. Co-producer Alan Mirikitani adds some sizzling guitar licks throughout. An auspicious debut by the new blues kid on the block.