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Unpolished sound gives accessible blues result

Sweet Home Tennessee Sweet Home Tennessee
By Homesick James & The Hypnotics

Appaloosa Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the Fall 1993 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

With his gruff, slurred vocals and equally rough guitar style to match, Homesick James plays an electrified blues that is an approximate cross between his second cousin, Elmore James, and the more rhythmic John Lee Hooker.

This 1992 set shows Homesick James to be in strong form, both in his playing and songwriting.

His guitar solos favor the middle ranges, and he aims more for the right note than the most notes. He also gets some pretty heavy reverb out of his setup for a kind of twangy sound.

"Can't Afford to Do It" is a catchy song about the whole male-female thing, while the title track is a reworked extrapolation of "Sweet Home Chicago," with a lyrical ode to his home state.

As unpolished as James' performance is – arrangements, vocals, guitar – it still manages to achieve a very accessible sound. There are some strong tunes here, and the three-man backing band swings with abandon.