ARTIST: GUY DAVIS

TITLE: SWEETHEART LIKE YOU

LABEL: RED HOUSE RHR (CD 211)

RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 2009

BY DENNIS ROGER REED

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You probably know the back story on Guy Davis: parents are actors/writer Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis, little Guy was bounced on somebody famous' knee. He has produced and acted with success. He's recorded nine CDs for Red House. And his ninth is named after a Bob Dylan tune Davis has recorded once before. And what a cover it is.

It starts with that Dylan familiarity, the blend of the organ, drums and guitars. Is it from Blonde on Blonde? No, wait, that's a newer song, and wait again: that ain't Bob singing! It's a huskier, fuller voice, but the voice wraps around Bob's tale of small town bravado and longing with even more conviction than Bob mustered for his version.

Davis has never sounded better, even though this lively trip through Bob-land is not too much like what we've come to expect from Davis: acoustic blues played with feeling and gusto. If that's what brings you back to Davis' CDs, you will not be disappointed. There's plenty of 12 string, slide guitar and grit. He throws a nice curve by doing Can't Be Satisfied on banjo. He struts his stuff on an almost worth it take on Hoochie Coochie Man, and, in my mind, perfectly encapsulates his greatest ability on his own Bring Back Storyville. Davis paints a picture of a woebegone soul who longs for the good old days, and Davis' expert accompaniment and soulful vocals compliment the taut lyrics. Davis has once again taken the basic blues form and added a modern sheen without losing enough of the gravel to make it the blues.

All of Davis' seven originals at least skirt this concept and all succeed. Davis is one of those "where does he find the hours in the day" Renaissance men who have accomplishments in so many artistic fields it boggles the senses. But it's difficult to believe that he can do anything more adeptly than his own version of the blues. Well done.

Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He's released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, DirtyLinen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard's and Paul Simon's revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.