Juju Child, “The Power of Me” (Independent)

There are good impressionists and there are good comedians. While both came up aping the stars of their youth, learning the routines and mannerisms of their favorite famous folks, only the good comedians went on to innovate on the routines.

Blues has a similar issue. There are plenty of people who can make their guitar wail and sing over the standard 12-bars, but many of them are just putting on the airs of the songs they grew up hearing. Juju Child no doubt heard the same dusty old records. But more importantly, they heard the dust.

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The Power of Me is one long attempt to blow off some of the dirt gathered on the blues by injecting a few genres that grew out of the Delta’s most-famous export back into the mix. That’s how you end up with tracks like “Family Man”—which runs the Beatles “Come Together” riff through the same sort of processing that made “Under Mi Sleng Teng” a Caribbean sensation. That’s why “Strange Blues” strips away the predictable shuffle of a typical blues song in favor of menacing guitars and cymbal hits that sound like a truncated snake’s rattle.

The originality and skill of the backing band helps to paper over the fact that some of the lyrics can be clunky, particularly when the band aims for more socially conscious fare. But a few spins of the Frankensteined ass-shaker “Dropping It”—which pairs a Bo Diddley riff with a ballpark organ and the Meters’ “Hey Pocky A-Way” melody—will more than make up for any missteps.

  • Marlin McNichols

    I been in the record business for over five decades as a record store owner, promotion man, concert promoter, record label owner and producer and have work with some of the biggest artist in our industry from Pop, R&B and Rock. When you talk about real blues recording artist you have a long list of greats such as BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Lou Wilson, Bobby Rush, Bo Diddley and the list could go on and on. But when I heard the album “Power Of Love” I had to include blues artist JuJu Child some place on that list.