Percy Strother
It's My Time
JSP 295
This is another in a string of recent JSP recordings of unheralded and commercially iffy U.S. bluesmen. This time it's Minneapolis-based, Mississippi-born vocalist and guitarist Percy Strother. Earlier in the decade, Strother released a couple of solid soul blues albums on Blue Loon (A Good Woman Is Hard to Find) and Black Magic (The Highway Is My Home) and has earned a reputation as an exciting live performer. Strother sings in a deep and powerful voice, amply pliant to deliver a soul ballad yet gritty enough to growl out the blues. And when he tears into a guitar solo, it's as biting and low-down as any heard in the Windy City.

Previously, Strother has dipped into the Magic Sam songbook to record "I'm Tore Down" and "Easy Baby" and covered Little Walter's "One of These Mornings." On It's My Time, however, Strother sticks to his own material and weighs in with a set of predominantly soul ballads. The problem with a whole album of this material is that unless the songwriting or arrangements are truly memorable, the songs soon blend into each other, victims of repetitive themes, rhythms and tempos. Which is pretty much the case here.

When Strother builds his songs around his spare, snapping guitar leads, he creates a distinctive sound that makes for exciting blues; "I Tried So Hard to Fake Love" and "It's My Time Baby" are two fine examples. Unfortunately there aren't many others. "I'm Doing Fine Without You" is distinguished by the fingerpicked interplay between Strother and rhythm guitarist and producer Johnny Rawls. The rest of It's My Time is loaded with unremarkable tunes that soon lose their interest.

Strother seems to be at his best live. It's My Time does no justice to the excitement of that experience.

-- Jack Oudiz

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Boulder, CO, USA.