JOHN POP­PER & THE DUSKRAY TROUBADOURS Self-ti­tled (429 Records)

Pasatiempo - - Tempos -

Work­ing as a bar­tender at a Santa Fe night­club in the early ’90s, it was part of my job to set ’ em up for singer/song­writer Jono Man­son and his band. It was the first time that blues, or any Amer­i­can roots mu­sic, had a deep im­pact on me. A few years later, I picked up a Blues Trav­eler al­bum and heard John Pop­per’s har­mon­ica play­ing. Soon I had amassed a drawer full of blues harps and more Sonny Boy Wil­liamson record­ings than you could shake a Hohner Chro­matic at. To dis­cover around the same time that Man­son and Pop­per knew each other and had worked to­gether was no sur­prise. With the re­lease of this self-ti­tled al­bum pro­duced by Man­son, these two prove once again that the alchemy they muster usu­ally leads to au­di­ble gold. Recorded and mixed at The Kitchen Sink, Man­son’s Chu­padero stu­dio, the 12-track al­bum is a di­verse mix of bal­lads (“End of the Line”), pop-and coun­try-in­flu­enced toe tap­pers (“Love Has Made It So,” “All the Way Down”), South­ern rock­ers (“Make It Bet­ter,” “Champip­ple”), and road­house barn burn­ers (“Leave It Up to Fate”) that don’t just show­case Pop­per’s tell­tale blues-harpisms and frog-in-throat vi­brato and Man­son’s fever­ish-yet-metic­u­lous pickin’ and wailin’. The tal­ents of fel­low Troubadours Steve Lind­say ( bass), Mark Clark (drums), and Kevin Trainor and Aaron Beavers (gui­tar) are on full dis­play, and there are plenty of guests mu­si­cians to help cre­ate a fuller, cleaner, and more ap­proach­able sound than you’ll find on any of Man­son’s or Pop­per’s pre­vi­ous record­ings.

— Rob DeWalt

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