On his fourth studio album, Corey Harris takes several stabs at breaking the mold-encrusted goober... Read More
dust spread around the bedrock of modern blues variations. Africa and the Delta matter equally on Downhome Sophisticate
. Harris' college work included studies of pidgin English, and trips to Cameroon and, recently, Mali have taught him more than a few new ways to turn around a backbeat. He avails himself of a cornucopia of genres, styles and geographical references: Macy Gray could have written "Frankie Doris"; "Sista Rose" conjures up the Nevilles; "Chinook" is the swamp-ambient soundtrack of Miller Lite's dreams; and the title track sounds like it escaped from a George Clinton session, hokey rapping and all.
Strangely enough, Downhome Sophisticate is eclectic the way a Funkadelic album used to be -- what might seem all over the map to you feels right at home to Harris. He and his longtime band mates handle each stylistic leap with a nimble charm and ease; particularly graceful is the multiethnic guitar weaving and bobbing of Harris and Jamal Millner -- both players are as comfortable with slide grit as they are with calypso lace. This is world music with a black American twist, displaying how comfortable in the world a blood knowledgeable of all his roots and assorted branches can be. Too long pigeonholed and boxed in by adoring reactionaries, the blues has been waiting like a left-behind bride for a worldly messenger like Harris to build her her own rainbow bridge.
(RS 896 - May 23, 2002)