Shawn Jones
Album: Struggle Makes You Stronger
Label: High Drive
Tracks: 12

Being billed alongside the likes of BB King, Robert Cray, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell and Taj Mahal s bound to teach you something and Shawn Jones has clearly been a willing student. He's got some pedigree and, to be honest, it shows. All too often, contemporary blues artists are so obviously in love with their influences they serve up frequently impressive and no doubt well intentioned, but ultimately water-treading carbon copies… tributes masquerading as progress.

Not so Mr Jones, whose new album is rooted in the good stuff from Hank Williams and Muddy Waters onwards, but this is a record of today. Honed at up to 200+ gigs a year, Jones plays his guitar with a deft touch, light enough to inject a little funk into a amiable blend of southern boogie and good ol' country picking.

The title track has shades of the Allman Brothers, but the boogie is never tougher than on Runnin' Water which harnesses an upbeat message to a slick guitar presence. She Don't Know ('Bout Her Own Mojo) flicks the groove button on the Hammond organ as Jones lays out some tidy slide 'n' shred guitar work. Sweet Victoria is a far more sedate affair, Life Is For Living adds a country rock jangle to the musical scope, Long As I've Got You finds some heart searching going on down there and Lonesome Road, with Robert Cray's drummer Tony Braunagel on the stool, is high grade country blues like they used to make.

Struggle Makes You Stronger knows its roots and is not afraid to show it.

Nick Churchill