Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Burnside & Hooker -- All the Way to the Devil

While many artists are still trying to figure out just what the hell to do with CDs in the streaming age (and in many cases abandoning albums altogether), Burnside & Hooker do not -- in most respects -- give a damn about what's trendy and popular. Their mammoth sophomore effort, All The Way to the Devil, is a raucous celebration of turn-of-the-century American music.


All The Way to the Devil  seems to gel best as a story. The gang vocals and stomps of the bluesy "All The Way to the Devil"/"The Graveyeard" set the stage: a wayward youth straining against her rural background leaves for the big city ("Someday (Gonna Leave This Town)"). As the album progresses and (in my mind) the narrator explores her new home, the songs transition from folk and blues to swing, jazz, and rock'n'roll. Rachel Bonacquisti, a vocal giant, hits her zenith at "Meridian Road" and "Red Betty," both red-hot rockabilly scorchers. But singers shouldn't get all the glory -- the rest of the band keeps up a furious pace, almost outshowing Bonacquisti with their acrobatics and intensity. As the character wishes us farewell in "Goodbye, Louisiana" (presumably she went to New Orleans), she reconciles with her mamma, and heads on back home.

I can imagine the band playing through the entire album as a set, though I wonder if there are enough Red Bulls in the world to make that proposition sustainable for both the musicians and the dancers. Another interesting point to All the Way to the Devil is the fact that it shows how interchangeable all of this  "Americana" stuff is. At the end of the day, all of these genres were meant to help (white) people get down on a Saturday night. The only thing that seems to separate early country and rock is geography. All the Way to the Devil doesn't just take us on a character's journey, it gives us a greater appreciation of this country's cultural contribution to the world.



Burnside & Hooker -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

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