Black Music Matters Festival

Dave and Phil Alvin

Lost Time – 2015 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Dave and Phil Alvin

As a follow up to their Grammy nominated reunion set, "Lost Time" treads the same turf, spotlighting the Alvin brothers' take on some familiar - and a few not so familiar - blues standards of a revered heritage. While the blues comes in many hues, it's not always easy to replicate them with the same tone and tenacity that the signature artists conveyed. Happily, however, Dave and Phil Alvin are able to channel that passion and offer a set of songs that boasts the same searing stance taken on the original renditions the first time around.

That's fortunate of course, but especially so in this case, given that one of the keynote artists that they offer their respects to is Big Joe Turner, an exceptional blues belter whose influence obviously impacted the brothers early on. Their takes on "Feeling Happy," "Wee Baby Blues" and "Cherry Red Blues" reflect the same sort of verbosity that Turner invested in his own efforts and manage to muster a similar degree of effortless exhilaration at the same time. Likewise, two of the most familiar songs in the set, a reworking of "House of the Rising Sun" -- here retitled "In New Orleans (Rising Sun Blues)" -- and a fiery take on James Brown's "Please Please Please" recapture the spirit of the seminal versions while still benefitting from the Alvins' own riveting interpretations.

"We tried out best to honor all these magnificent musicians, songwriters and singers as well as expose them to new listeners and perhaps raise some ghosts up from their graves for a minute or two," Dave Alvin explains in the liner notes. Given the dynamic established herein, it's clear they managed to maintain that mission successfully.