Shufflin’ The Bluesis the title of the new blues release by Holly Hyatt and Jon Burden on Flood Plane Records. It was recorded live at The Silverton Gallery, Silverton, British Columbia, which makes for an intimate “you are there” ambiance. The sound is both defined and balanced with the album liner notes communicating that the music was recorded completely live and mixed without overdubs, auto tune, or programming. The nine selections are split between five originals and four choice cover interpretations that ably serve as tributes to some of their musical influences. Holly Hyatt plays stand-up acoustic and electric bass, her father Jon Burden plays acoustic and electric guitar, and Marvin Walker contributes drums and percussion. The skilled vocals provided are shared throughout by Holly and Jon.
The opening song is an agreeable good-quality rendition of the legendary master Muddy Waters’ classic Chicago blues shuffle “Blow Wind Blow.” The lyrics are mournful with the persistent blues theme of a man lamenting the fact that his woman has left him for another man. The song was originally recorded by Chess Records as the “B” side of “Mad Love (I Want You To Love Me)” on September 24, 1953 with his usual Chicago-era array that consisted of lead and rhythm guitars, bass, piano, drums and blues harp. Muddy also recorded “Blow Wind Blow” on his seminal album “Fathers And Sons” in 1969, a record which remains one of my all-time blues favorites. The bare-bones (guitar, bass, & drums) grouping on Holly and Jon’s take lags behind Muddy’s emotional wattage, but wins points for its subtlety as it chugs steadily along. Jon’s solid vocals and guitar play along with Holly’s vocals are spotlighted to good advantage. The father and daughter duo trade lead vocals, as they do during the course of the show, with few stabs at harmony to be found.
The second song, “Mother Earth Blues,” is another
tribute to a blues great, this time piano great Memphis Slim (John Peter
Chatman). It’s a slow 12-bar blues with a haunting chorus of “Don’t care how
great you are, don’t care what you’re worth, when it all ends up you got to go
back to mother Earth.” Holly and Jon give the tune a nice easy swing that is
never forced. Both Holly and Jon share inspired vocal renderings with Holly’s steadily
composed bass work complimenting Jon’s guitar. For a live release there is not
an excess of stage banter included. However, Holly does at the conclusion of
this number impart a bit of sage wisdom to the crowd with her observation: “A
little bit of blues is good for the soul.”
“Let’s Boogie” is an energy-filled Holly penned
composition that features her on vocals and bass in an up-tempo shuffle that is
fleeting in length. The lyrics get concisely to the point in soliciting: “let’s
boogie, come on baby, let’s dance, put your lovin’ arms around me, I want to
feel some romance.” The three musicians
transmit a compellingly joyful vibe with Jon’s guitar having an early Chuck
Berry “Roll Over Beethoven” embryonic exuberance with Holly’s vibrant vocal securely
ship-shape fitting the song like a favorite pair of blue jeans.
The next song is another original composition, this
one written by Jon and Holly, titled “Lowdown Blues.” It begins with a slow
tempo before kicking into gear with a down and dirty boogie rhythm as Holly
accomplishes her finest effort at singing the blues away. Much like the great
guitarist Jimmy Rogers said “if you don’t dig the blues, you got a hole in your
Another inspired cover version comes next when Holly
and Jon journey back to 1936 with Mississippi Delta Blues Pioneer Robert
Johnson’s “Come On In My Kitchen.” The reconstruction of this timeless classic
features some mighty nice bottleneck guitar stylings from Jon and a sublimely
soulful vocal as well. Jon reminds me of Dave Alvin in the manner of his
delivery that seems to sound better to my ears with each repeated listen
functioning to illuminate his profound command of vocal inflection and pitch
shading. The familiar lyrics tell the tale of stealing a woman from a friend only
to have her stolen back again. The importance of contemporary blues artists to
reintroduce archetypal songs such as this one to the current generation cannot
be understated. The practice aids to garner an appreciation for the roots of
the blues that have inspired so many for so long. Jon and Holly really have a
gift for shining their brightest on these blues covers.
Photo by Aszjeca Burden
“Get Your Own Man,” authored by Holly, has a
traditional country blues flavor with fine acoustic guitar picking from Jon.
The finger-poppin’ rhythm is fueled by Holly’s solidly stepping bass and Marvin
Walker’s clear and clean wire-brush drum work. The lyrics lean toward cliché,
but there is nothing wrong with that, and Holly sings quite convincingly.
The song “Left Handed Soul” really spoke to me. It’s a slow blues with a great bass line and a unique vocal delivery. Being a musician, I can relate to “living in a right handed world with my left handed soul, I keep walkin’ around in the same ol’ pair of shoes, people diggin’ rock and roll and I’m still shufflin’ the blues.” ~ Holly Hyatt
“Left Handed Soul,” a Nick Gravenites song, has a
lazy blues groove which makes it my favorite song on this album. Holly shuffle
steps on her bass and Jon’s laid-back vocal is sublime in its simplicity. Jon’s
electric guitar work is good as gravy on this one. Also, the lyrics provide the
title for the release.
“We called our CD Shufflin’ The Blues, not
only for the line in that song, but because there are a lot of shuffles on the
album and we love to shuffle the blues!” ~ Holly Hyatt
“Black Crow” is a fine original composition that
rolls progressively along like a riverboat down the Mississippi. Holly’s vocal
is bouncily poppy, lean and light, and sweet as honeysuckle. The acoustical
arrangement is delightful and this song displays another example of how versatile Holly’s voice can be.
The final song is entitled “Slushy Blues” and the
lyrics speak of someone who longs to get away from winter’s cold, snow-slushy
weather to a climate that is more agreeable. She jazzily sings “take me
somewhere where it’s warm” and also shows that she is adept at jazz scat
Jon Burden’s guitar work on Shufflin’ The Blues is always intelligent and full of deep feeling. He continually takes a “less is more” approach on his instrument that is richly satisfying. The songs on the album are musically and thematically caught in a time warp that takes the audience back to simpler times with their blues variations. Holly Hyatt and Jon Burden dig deep into that fertile blues soil and harvest a bounty that is sure to please on Shufflin’ The Blues.
Randall Parrish is a Senior Editor at Vivascene, with extensive publishing credits at various jazz and blues sites. He is also an avid guitar player whose musical knowledge of jazz, blues and roots music is widely respected. Based in Nevada, he can be reached by email here: RandallParrish@vivascene.com