Can’t Keep a Good Man Down (Borealis)
Montreal-based singer/songwriter Michael Jerome Browne looks strictly at the blues in his latest Borealis release, a thoughtfully chosen compilation of mostly pre-war tunes taken from several previous releases.
Part archivist, part instrumental wizard, Browne approaches these songs as though they were written yesterday, resisting the impulse to nail them to a particular period. He’s respectful to original songwriters such as Tommy Johnson (Morning Prayer) and Reverend Gary Davis (Death Don’t Have No Mercy) without adding more dust to the process, singing in his own voice, zestfully warming up songs on an array of instruments: electric arch-top guitar, resonator, 12-string, gourd banjo, even a cheap, $25 guitar on his own At It Again.
Lauded as a virtuoso in the Canadian roots scene, Browne is also a consummate interpreter, and even if his smooth voice quickly reveals he’s not Delta-born, you can appreciate the personality and wit behind it. A good starting point for digging into the back catalogue of one of the country’s best performers.