SAMMY KERSHAW – Cross Road Blues

Goldenlane 2024

Cross Road Blues

Taking a rider by his side, country star tries to sell his soul yet falls short of asking price.

There’s no denying the robustness of this artist’s Appalachia-rooted credentials yet venturing out of this commercially viable, wide-swath niche hasn’t worked too well for the veteran so far. Not that he attempted to veer away from his chosen genre very much until 2016’s “The Blues Got Me” which consisted mostly of Kershaw originals, with a few classics thrown in for good measure, and “Cross Road Blues” which ousts Sammy’s own numbers in favor of borrowed material should only prove such a point. For all the strength of pieces on offer, the overall impression is of the singer having studied the staples rather painstakingly but still not allowing them to steep in his psyche, despite the impressive guitar support from producer Danny B. Harvey.

This is obvious straight from the start, Kershaw striving to reach gravity on “Born Under A Bad Sign” while not failing to demonstrate a certain amount of swagger which will, fortunately, match Harvey’s incandescent flurries of notes on “Oh Well” and Alexia Nikitakis boogie piano on “Going Down” only to flounder on “I Can’t Quit You Baby” and the album’s title track that struggle to relay proper despondence – due, perhaps, to Sammy’s country approach to vocal phrasing. However, he’s harnessing the gist of lesser known pieces with a firmer grip, so the unhurried “Spending Cabbage” and “Be Careful With A Fool” exude elegant panache exactly thanks to his prairie-scoping inflections and Danny’s liquid licks. And if the freedom, and the faithfulness to the source, they project on the shiny balladry of “If I Had Any Pride Left At All” and "I'd Love To Change The World" can’t be measured in twelve bars, the harmonica-splashed bravado of “On The Road Again” surely can.

Of course, being country-blues cuts, the boisterous “My Babe” and poignant “Blues Man” work best here, and that’s the domain the esteemed Mr. Kershaw must explore further before going for a full-blown crossover.


June 10, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *