Big Dave McLean Acoustic Blues: Got ‘em from the Bottom

Big Dave McLean really is big, or at least very tall. His voice is big, about the size of the Saskatchewan horizon, where he was born in 1951. People, like Colin James or the boys of the Perpetrators, say Big Dave has a big heart too, filled with blues belief. No one says Big Dave has a big head. This third CD for Stony Plain, and only his fifth recording in a career spanning more than 35 years, is terrific. It’s the culmination of everything he’s done before, only stronger. There are two reasons. One: the cliché of blues artists getting better with age applies, and McLean’s ragged voice sounds natural, not forced, as he laments Barbecue Bob’s "Atlanta Moan” or on his composition, the wistful "Comin’ Home To You.” Secondly, the simplified acoustic setting works, giving the lyrics precedence but still room for the players shine, particularly Gord Kidder’s darting harmonica and McLean’s National steel playing. From the bottom they have come, to the top Big Dave’s blues are rising. (Stony Plain)