The first four bars of opening track “Wash My Hands,” announce the return of Too Slim and the Taildraggers with a muscular one, two, three punch of gritty guitar, snapping snare drum and thundering bass. Recorded in his new home of Nashville, Blue Heart is the follow-up to Shiver ; the 2012 Blues Music Association nominated Blues Rock Album of the Year and his much lauded solo album Broken Halo. The eleven song collection produced by Tom Hambridge feature his skills on both sides of the glass, as he does great work in the drum chair and at the mixing desk, showing us exactly why he is in high demand. The other guest musicians include Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughn) on B3, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) vocals and harmonica, Rob McNelley (guitar), and Tommy MacDonald (bass). The nine new compositions from Langford show off his formidable songwriting skills alongside his already well known guitar work on this his twelfth studio album.
Standouts among the southern fried roots and blues are the swampy shuffle of the title track, the rock redemption of “When Whiskey Was My Friend,” and the fore mentioned “Wash My Hands,” with its infectious riff. Langford hands over the vocals reigns to Jimmy Hall who shines on the soul ballad “Good To See You Smile Again,” trading sweet guitar leads with him while Reese Wynans lays down the classic Hammond organ that he is famous for. A Too Slim record wouldn’t be complete without a slide guitar feature and so for this one he chose “Preacher,” from fellow bottleneck man Ross Simmons, adding a hundred watts of power to this tale of fire and brimstone. After all the rocking out Langford ends the album with the acoustic based, world music infused “Angels Are Back,” hinting that he may have even more up his sleeve; only time will tell.
Rick J Bowen