GOD-DAYMN!! With a stomp in his step, rousing approval from Planet Harmonica magazine (it exists, check it out) and the hushed mention that he is something to do with Crash Test Dummies, Son Of Dave is the sorta guy you want dragging blues back into the spotlight and putting to shame all those who thought playing guitar would somehow take the genre to new territory. Being the project solely of one Ben Darvill, Son Of Dave (yes, his dad is actually called Dave) has always been fascinating to watch live, seeing as he has such a wealth of low-down blues n’ rhythm spilling out of him. But don’t worry if you ain’t had the pleasure of witnessing such an event yet, because his new album ‘02’ still manages to encase in itself the white-hot raw-as-bleeding-gums thrill that this guy’s music exudes.
Seconds into the track that kicks proceedings off, ‘Leave Without Running’, the tone of the album is set by Darvill’s opening gambit – namely, a couple of chesty coughs, a comment about how he’s just fallen off his stool, and a teeth-first dive into the muddy swamp-blues that those au fait with his first outing, ‘01’, will surely have grown a hankerin’ for. Granted, Dave’s son only really has a couple of aces up his sleeve, namely his deftness with the ol’ mouth organ and the ability to place his feet about on effects pedals at the same time, creating a flurry of looped vocal beat-box sounds to accompany his screamin’ and hollerin’. But when the ace is the shiniest in the pack, why bother laying down lesser hands? The mumbling, shouting and trademark rasping sounds in ‘Goddamn’ make it so infectious it’s almost viral, the beat in ‘Gonna Get You Back’ has so much vivacity you’d need your feet nailed to the floor to stop stomping along, and his understated run-through of soul-rousing standard ‘Mannish Boy’ will have even the most die-hard of Chess aficionados wondering how so much life can be breathed into the song by toning it down so much.
Even when the mood is taken down further still, for instance in the woozy ‘San Francisco’ and the wheezing but slightly seductive ‘I Got What You Need’, the mood is somewhat trip-hop in presentation but still one “woke up this morning” away from being considered classically blue all over. The guy has such an aura of cool surrounding him (and that’s cool in the so-laid-back-he’s-almost-comatose meaning of the word) that even after an aural equivalent of ants in the pants like ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’’ it seems that the listener is left more worn out than the man himself, but with music that incites so much rapture it’s hardly surprising.
It’ll be interesting to see whether (and, indeed, precisely how) Darvill keeps this sort of momentum up, and where exactly his sat-down southern soul boogie will go next in terms of exploring musical terrain. But for now he’s got a modern spirit of the Delta in him, and can I get an Amen for that? A-MEN!!
8Thomas Blatchford's Score