Bill Bourne Voodoo King

Don’t judge this book by its cover, because despite its rough-hewn cover art, Voodoo King houses some riches inside. Bourne is a well-seasoned folkie that has more recently found himself highly involved in the blues. From his involvement with Tri-Continental (Lester Quitzau co-produces and adds brilliant guitar throughout) to his varied side projects, Bourne proves to be a true mystic that teems with the spirituality required to validate the title of Voodoo King. Indeed, he is prolific in his magical ability to bewitch the listener across a truly diverse range of musical styles — call it "world soul.” Beginning with a spoken word intro, he dives into "Portland” with a dark Waits-ian growl while Quitzau weaves a threatening soundscape behind him amidst a clatter of back alley percussion. The uplifting "Holy Holy” spills out of Johannesburg, with Bourne providing near-Zulu vocals against the heavenly choruses of the Be Good Tanyas. One of the album’s most beautiful songs is the title track, which slows things down and showcases Bourne’s smoky voice (falling somewhere between Garland Jeffreys and Valdy), while his Tri-Continental pals build dense atmospherics into the mix. "Burning Candles” is, likewise, a gentle giant of a song that demonstrates Bourne’s powerful writing skills as it does his well-crafted arrangements and the significant chemistry of his handpicked accompanists. "Grace,” the album’s final and longest track, simply takes flight and stays airborne, thanks to the dual guitar wizardry of Quitzau and Madagascar Slim. There are a few meandering missteps here but, for the most part, Bourne can rightfully lay claim to a throne that few others could even approach. (Second Story)