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Colin James Colin James
Album: Blue Highways
Label: True North
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.colinjames.com

Colin James is an award-winning Canadian blues guitarist who has has a long and varied career. When he first came on the scene around 25 years, he was mentored by Stevie Ray Vaughan and his debut album was the fastest selling album in Canadian history.

Blue Highways is his 18th album and was recorded in a mammoth 36-hour recording session in Vancouver at the end of a recent tour. It features some of Colin's favourite blues tracks and as such is a consummate labour of love.

The band, which has been touring with Colin prior to making this fine album, is on top form as they romp through thirteen tracks which pay homage to some the blues greats such as Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Robert Johnson, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy to name a few.

Musically this is a joyful album, the band blending beautifully on numbers such as the opener Boogie Funk and the Freddie King-inspired Going Down.

There's plenty of light and shade too, with Colin switching to slide on some numbers and going acoustic on others.

This is a feast for anyone who loves blues music and fine musicianship. The songs feel fresh and alive and it is obvious there was great fun in the recording process.

Tracks include Peter Green's Watch Out, Muddy Water's Gypsy Woman, and Robert Johnson's Last Fair Deal. But it would be wrong to assume this is a another slavish album of blues covers however. No, this is most certainly a brilliant homage to those who have gone before by a musician who is at the top of his game.

Highly recommended

John Knighton