Blues in Britain Magazine
Michael Pickett is one of Canada's most popular blues artists, and it is easy to understand why after listening to his performance on 'Solo', where he accompanies himself on guitar and rack harmonica on a selection of original compositions that meld seamlessly with the four well chosen covers that make up the balance of this fine set.
Pickett has a natural blues voice blessed with an unbridled intensity that hooks you from the first track, 'Louise', where his fretwork reflects the influence of both John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson; the same influences, plus shades of Lightning Hopkins, again prevalent on the sombre crack cocaine warning 'The Hood' and the tough 'World In An Uproar'. On 'Blues Is A Friend Of Mine', Pickett evokes that unstable balance of plaintiveness and menace of which Johnson was the master, his rack harp enhancing the former; whilst the biggest compliment I can pay his songwriting is that if I close my eyes, I could just imagine RJ singing 'Feel Like A Stranger'. The final two originals are the instrumental 'Bill's Song' which has a Celtic feel', and the bass driven 'Cecil & Spadina' where Marty Cordrey's Doumbek emphasizes the tantalizing rhythms that pervade this blues.
The four covers include an inevitable Johnson number in 'Steady Rollin' Man', which is given a mellow, loping treatment replete with high register country harp; a poignant rendition of Sticks McGhee's 'Lonesome Road', where Pickett's guitar achieves an entrancing bell-like quality; a wonderful Sonny Terry tribute of harp and finger snapping on 'Lose Your Money' and the fine picking that generates the relaxed swing on Brownie McGhee's 'Living With The Blues'. (www.michaelpickett.com)
© 2006 Michael Pickett