Carter Chaplin Don't Be So Evil

The depth of blues talent concentrated in Eastern Canada runs deep, as evidenced by this record that makes the connection between weathering hardship and the ability to sing and play from a place deep in the soul. Carter Chaplin is a case in point. A shy, quiet man, he provides the musical backbone to much of the Halifax scene and has acquired a reputation as a guitar player’s guitar player over his short 35 years. This release represents Carter’s many blues faces, delivering on its promise of serving up, as the cover states, "100% Blues.” As much a blues cooperative as a solo record, Chaplin smartly surrounds himself with some of the best talent available, from "Little Barry” Cooke and Rick Jeffery to Joe Murphy, Phil Potvin and Mark Green. He then proceeds to dazzle from his rich catalogue of preferred blues styles, Texas blues via Chicago and Mississippi. Clearly favouring walls of harp, Chaplin takes advantage of the significant powers of Jeffery, Potvin and Murphy across the bulk of 14 tracks, each characterised by different singers. More substance than showboat, Chaplin tackles all manner of blues material: some of the best tracks including blistering instrumentals like "Rawkin’” taking a raucous page from R.L. Burnside’s juke joint Delta sound. Another is "Booze Queen,” driven by Mark Green’s inimitable rasp and Phil Potvin’s fat harp tone. Chaplin takes a tasteful jazz turn on "Hate to Say It Baby” before jumping into the dark, decadent groove of "Afternoon Buzz” or the richly rhythmic rockabilly of "Bloozabilly Boogie.” Of special note is Rick Jeffery’s devilish contribution to Carter’s original "Good Eye On You,” underlining his significant harp and vocal strengths but it is Chaplin’s seamless versatility across so much blues turf that makes this much "Evil” so entirely satisfying. (Independent)