By M.D. Spenser
Evocative guitar and haunting vocals grace this impressive collection of Delta Blues.
Petersen, a Dane, recorded this debut in his living room, and it was well worth the effort. The album does more than echo the past: seven of the 10 cuts are originals, and a fine batch of songs they are.
The opener, ‘Easy Baby’, is gentle yet insistent, propelled by Petersen’s acoustic guitar: He urges a woman to leave her no-good man.
And there’s the mournful, sparsely sketched ‘Highway 424’, in which the singer searches for the words to tell a friend in trouble, presumably with drugs. “The road ahead sure is rough/ Tell me, don’t it hurt to lie to the ones you love?” he asks.
The covers are great, too. Petersen deploys a lovely slow slide on Charley Patton’s ‘High Sheriff Blues’. Ledbelly’s ‘Bound To Go’, by contrast, features lively fingerpicking – technically superb and great fun.
If you’re going to base an entire album around your solo acoustic guitar, versatility is critical – and Petersen has it. Each song has a different feel.
But it’s the originals that set this album apart. ‘Don’t hesitate’ – a song fully imagined but lightly painted – is a mellow folk-Blues about falling in love. The song is a joy.
Petersen understands that the first Delta blues artists were creators. One cannot emulate them through imitation, but only through innovation. By taking the Blues forward he honours its past. Tim Lothar Petersen is an artist from whom we can expect a lot.