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A new voice for the blues

Bio on the Bayou
By Kenny Neal

Kingsnake Records: 1987

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This review first appeared in the February 12, 1988 issue of the San Diego Evening Tribune.

While Kenny Neal's dad, Raful, had to wait 30 years to release his first album, the next generation of Neals is quicker off the mark.

"Bio on the Bayou" (later re-issued Alligator as "Big News From Baton Rouge" with two different songs) is a solid, well-balanced blues album that looks to the future without losing touch with the past.

Like the better-known Robert Cray, Neal's definition of the blues seems to be one of feel and emotion as much as of structure and form. "Don't Dip in My Business," "Bop 'Til You Drop" and "Cost of Living" borrow as much from rock and pop as from traditional blues.

While the majority of the album is composed of Neal's accessible rock-blues hybrid that could propel him to fame, he takes the time to visit the history of the music as well. On "Evalina," he sits in with a vocalist identified only as Bootney for a traditional 12-bar work blues right out of 19th century cotton fields or work gangs. [Unfortunately, "Evalina" was one of the two songs dropped from Alligator's re-issue.]