Published Jan 20, 2015Michael Jerome Browne is a multiple Canadian Folk Music and Maple Blues Awards winner and three-time Juno nominee. Prior to launching an active solo career, he recorded four albums with Montreal blues favourites the Stephen Barry Band. Skilled in a wide range of roots styles, Browne pays tribute to the vintage sounds of '20s and '30s rural blues on Sliding Delta. He is quite a wizard on stringed instruments, shining on banjo, mandolin and a range of guitars, from a 1935 National to '50s Silvertone and Oahu models. Along with informative liner notes, Browne helpfully includes a "Guitar Nerd's Corner" with tuning and instrument info.
He chooses his material well, covering such genre greats as Fred McDowell, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Minnie and Blind Lemon Jefferson. In many cases, he selects lesser-known tracks by these artists, enabling the listener to discover some new gems in this rich and important tradition. Browne possesses a warm and supple voice, though his vocals do lack the gritty resonance that typified the work of the original Delta blues greats. Highlights here include a haunting take on Skip James' "Special Rider Blues," McTell's classic "Broke Down Engine," and McDowell's "Write Me A Few Lines," featuring the delightfully resonant sound of the National. Sliding Delta is closed in fine fashion by the spiritual "Choose Your Seat And Sit Down," a duet with Eric Bibb, a blues great who often uses Browne as an accompanist. Expect this album to figure in the next round of blues/roots awards. (Borealis)