This is classic rock and blues, all soulful and gritty, miles away from any sort of studio polish. Al’s voice, throaty and raw, is masculinity defined.
It’s hard to balance keeping true to blues’ melancholic roots without dipping into cliches; after all, it’s those very same cliches that help define the blues. So what is it then that keeps this music fresh, away from stagnation? In the case of Big Al, it’s the power of his performance. His vocals carry weight and express passion; there’s fire in those lungs.
Analyzing a blues record can be rather pointless because this is an emotional, not an intellectual, exercise. On that level, Big Al hits the right heart keys, especially on “Mother in Law Blues”and “Movin’ On.” The surprising cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” nearly tops the original with its blistering voice work. While King’s version was blissfully sentimental, Big Al reveals the longing at the lyrics’ core.