Chris Thomas King, Bona Fide (21st Century Blues)

Chris Thomas King Bona Fide Album Cover

Bona Fide offers a glimpse of Chris Thomas King in full stride propelled by mid-career confidence, a genuinely inventive and compelling inheritor of the blues traditions whose surprisingly intimate performances succeed not through gospel shouting or bold declaration, but instead through strategic charm and guile.

It’s useful to remember that King descends through his father “Rockin’” Tabby Thomas and the Baton Rouge “swamp blues” scene that produced both electric harmonica trailblazer Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs and current Kennedy Center honoree Buddy Guy, who greatly influenced Jimi Hendrix. What characterizes all four bluesmen are their gentle demeanors combined with fiery and boundary-challenging expression.

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On Bona Fide, an unassuming but endlessly creative blues statement, Chris Thomas King makes both qualities clear and continues to clear new ground with several personal numbers: two entrancing folk-to-swamp blues transformations in “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and “You’ve Got to Walk that Lonesome Highway,” the raga-like treatment of “Mind Over Matter,” and the completely satisfying multi-layered cover of Hendrix’ most lyrical original blues, “The Wind Cries Mary.” Chris Thomas King proves he’s the real deal primarily through his determined, one-of-a-kind approach to the blues tradition fully realized through masterful conceptual and musical skills.