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Bill Leverty - Deep South

  by Lisa Torem

published: 9 / 7 / 2010

Bill Leverty - Deep South
Label: EMI
Format: CD


Thoughtful third solo album of southern blues covers from much acclaimed guitarist, Bill Leverty

Bill Leverty’s third album, ‘Deep South’, is deep stuff. Though this singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was awarded the title of best guitarist of the 1991 American Music Awards for Best New Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Artist and has co-written gems for FireHouse, he decided to change lands and submerge himself in a brand new recording project which has resulted in a fascinating CD. Leverty decided to compile ten unforgettable cover tunes that exemplify southern blues. If he had been steeped in these classics, he might not have gotten such a fresh look at these treasures. As it turns out, his enthusiastic desire to unearth archival blues tunes, even without the benefit of a musicologist’s background, was an asset. 25 years ago, Leverty was a hard-working guitar instructor. His gig forced him to explore a multiplicity of styles and genres, and gave him an appreciation for the traditional blues songs that have stood the test of time. That said, Leverty cleverly fused his own performance and production ideas with the tunes, keeping the songs sacred and central. ‘Trouble So Hard’ opens the album. Leverty does a good job of layering some “bluesy riffs” on top of the poignant sentiments. He has also made this standard relevant, adding a verse which acknowledged today’s flailing economic blight. ‘Run On’ has been covered by Odetta, Elvis and Blind Boys of Alabama in various incarnations, but the version by Johnny Cash proved to be the most inspirational. Leverty has spiced it up with a banjo solo and pretty melodies from a mandolin. ‘Boll Weevil’ had a plaintive texture which Leverty has decided to pump up with some additional strings and rhythms. ‘Nine Hundred Miles’ was once a signature piece of wanderlust Woody Guthrie. The loneliness of the theme was exemplified by dobro solos and bluegrass seasonings. A fight to the finish by duelling guitars has definitely put a new spin on a sacred classic. ‘Wade in the Water’ has received a thorough makeover. In contrast to the version by the Staple Singers, Leverty has infused exciting percussive touches and generous harmonies; both with the intent of creating a full sound. Leverty took quite a chance by covering ‘Hit the Road Jack’ as it’s a song which has been so closely aligned with the great Ray Charles. Leverty’s wife adds some gorgeous vocals and this version is joyfully piano driven. ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ features the unique harp playing of Houston Scott. The solo is almost cosmic and other worldly; not your standard blues harp fare. Leverty’s vocals all around help to accentuate the messages of the songs and trigger profound emotion. As stated earlier, ‘Deep South’ is deep stuff. Leverty has outdone himself.

Track Listing:-
1 Trouble So Hard
2 Run On
3 Boll Weevil
4 Nine Hundred Miles
5 Samson and Delilah
6 Walk Beside Me
7 Hit the Road Jack
8 Rain and Snow
9 Wade in the Water
10 Man of Constant Sorrow

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