James Taylor sometimes deceives himself into thinking he’s got the blues. If Sweet Baby James actually had them—or, more accurately, understood them—he’d probably sound a lot like guitarist Marty Christian, whose debut Bluesicana can’t help but come off genial and uplifting, even in the midst of heartbreak and/or seduction. The 10 originals here (accompanied only by Joseph Edwards’ rubboard) comprise the most jovial blues album to come out of the Sportsmen’s Paradise in many a year. Example? The song “My Mistakes” is all about how Marty can get past them.
Christian can pick, native of Austin and resident of Lafayette that he is. (That “C” in the album title speaks volumes about his regionality). Check out the way the groove choogles from Memphis to the Delta and back on “Willow Tree Blues,” or the smooth jazz caress of “Lonely Man.” And even if his vocals are rich with the Hootiesque nuances that suggest there’s a little suburbia standing between him and the land. They’re still dead-on, sailing expertly through the Cajun nuances of the swamp pop gem “Walk Around With Me” and conjuring up just the right mix of John Mayer silk and vintage Ron Records belt on the closing lament “Pictures On Her Dresser.” He doesn’t sound that torn up. but there’s no law that says the blues, even acoustic and vaguely authentic, have to be steeped in misery or desperation. Sometimes it’s enough to understand the language.