Review by Glen Parkes
When the blues permeates your soul, it’s not merely a genre; it’s a lived experience. Mississippi MacDonald doesn’t just perform the blues—he embodies its essence. If someone asked me to define the blues, I’d hand them a copy of this album and declare, “This IS the blues.”
Hailing from London, Mississippi MacDonald, born with a guitar in hand and steeped in blues influences from legends like Albert King, Albert Collins, and Freddie King, doesn’t merely strum chords—he crafts an evocative narrative of raw emotion. His journey through the US blues circuit and encounters with luminaries like B.B. King and Pinetop Perkins paint his blues canvas with authenticity.
“Do Right, Say Right,” originally released in 2021, showcases MacDonald’s soulful guitar and heartfelt vocals. The album is a re-release of his debut under APM Records, featuring five bonus tracks that add depth to an already stirring collection. With Elliot Boughen on bass, Mark Johnson-Brown on drums, Lucy Dearing on backing vocals, and the adept production of Phil Dearing, this album is a testament to MacDonald’s musical prowess.
The opening track, “I Was Wrong,” sets the tone—a fusion of horns and soulful blues guitar that pierces the heart with its earnestness. MacDonald’s impassioned vocals, harmonizing with Phil’s soothing keyboards, paint a vivid picture of heartbreak and despair.
In “Someone Doesn’t Appreciate My Blues,” MacDonald defiantly embraces his bluesman identity despite criticism. His guitar prowess takes centre stage, highlighting his refusal to yield to disparaging comments. The track’s energy is unyielding and resolute, driving his musical narrative forward.
“All the Complaining in the World Can’t Hurt Me” carries the angst forward, weaving a tale of unwelcome attention to his partner. MacDonald’s guitar solos, complemented by horns and keys, echo his warnings in a vivid display of musical storytelling.
“Drinker’s Blues” delves into the struggles of an afflicted soul seeking solace at dawn, painting a poignant picture with Lucy’s backing vocals and MacDonald’s soulful delivery. His guitar solos resonate deeply, expressing anguish and catharsis.
“Let Me Explore Your Mind” showcases MacDonald’s dexterity, veering into soulful territory, blending guitar, keys, and heartfelt vocals into a mesmerizing sermon of emotional depth.
As MacDonald contemplates quitting in “That’s It, I Quit,” his frustrations in the gigging life bubble forth. However, his musical finesse shines through, especially in the leisurely paced “If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee,” an ode to blues indulgence.
“Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket” stands firm on a solid bassline, with MacDonald delivering a playful yet assertive rebuke through bursts of guitar brilliance.
The album’s bonus tracks add layers of depth. “Your Wife is Cheating on Us” showcases MacDonald’s adept storytelling, while “Ballad of Pat Hare” resonates with its narrative depth and collaboration with The Reverend Shawn Amos.
“Talking a Little Rain,” a live recording, concludes this musical journey with poignant slow blues, demonstrating the band’s tightness on stage.
In essence, “Do Right, Say Right” is a testament to Mississippi MacDonald’s blues authenticity. It’s not just an album; it’s a passage into the heart and soul of the blues. To experience the genuine spirit of blues and soul-infused music, dive into this album and discover the veritable bluesman in Mississippi MacDonald.