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Spooky blues

Graveyard Jones
Graveyard Jones
By Jake La Botz

Charnel Ground Records: 2006

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This review first appeared in Turbula in October 2006.

Inhabiting the same dark recesses of the blues as the late Screamin' Jay Hawkins or John Campbell, Jake La Botz's gravelly growl of a voice creates a funereal sound that evokes satanic fears and can make your skin crawl. His new, third CD, "Graveyard Jones," at times is as much a Halloween soundtrack as blues exploration. It's the sort of music one might expect to hear while visiting a voodoo priestess in a back alley of the French Quarter.

With a minimalist approach to instrumentation (acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keyboards), the focus on each song is mostly on La Botz's singing. He's an adequate guitarist (and employs former Rod Piazza sideman Rick "L.A. Holmes" Holmstrom on electric guitar on most tracks), and besides, the songs (he wrote all 14 of them) are really written around the vocal part.

Despite the rough-edges to his voice, La Botz is actually a tremendous singer. Expressive, passionate, and with an innate melodicism, La Botz more than holds his own on the tracks where the rangy Janiva Magness provides harmony vocals.

If you like your blues served up raw, without a lot of window dressing, Jake La Botz has the recipe you've been looking for.