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Wednesday, 14 March 2018 18:47

Ian A. Anderson

Written by Eric Thom
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Deathfolk Blues Revisited (GFTB Records)

Britain’s other Ian Anderson is 70 years old and instrumental to the growth and popularity of acoustic country blues since first hitting the coffee houses and speakeasys of the mid-’60s—and he’s still at it.

Having performed in all manner of duos, trios, and full country blues and roots bands, this release reflects a documentation of his more solo self, featuring the favourite songs he’s made his own over the past half-century.

In his spare time, he’s birthfather to, and editor of, the formidable fRoots magazine—which more than hints at his knowledge and relevancy. Equipped with little more than the basics—live takes with a single microphone—Anderson accompanies himself on acoustic and resonator guitars.

Launching with his version of Big Bill Broonzy’s Keep Your Hands Off Her, updated towards more modern tastes, his playing rises well above his vocal finesse, yet his affection for the music is clear.

If you recognize A Fool Such As I, it’s likely because the last time you heard Bill Trader’s original composition, Elvis Presley struck gold with it. It’s no surprise to understand that this hardcore roots fan was first captured by Hank Snow’s version recorded in ’53.

Everyone from The Byrds to Dock Boggs has covered the traditional murder ballad Pretty Polly, yet Anderson’s version resounds with ringing fingerstyle guitar, his vocals well suited to its English storytelling.

Merging approaches as disparate as Muddy Waters, John Hammond, and Mose Allison, Anderson delivers on I Love The Life I Live, his voice resembling, at times, that much-loved, drunken uncle from parental parties.

His contribution to this specific genre of music may outweigh his actual abilities in some circles, yet—as this too-short, eight-song sampler proves—his enthusiasm, dedication, and earnest conviction to the music reveals a formidable character who’d likely prove exhilarating in any live setting.

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