Review: Music you can dance to from Lonesome Shack

CHRIS TALBOTT
AP Music Writer

Lonesome Shack, “More Primitive” (Alive Naturalsound)

More than anything else the blues is meant for dancing. The guys in Lonesome Shack seem to know this deep down in their bones.

These three middle-aged white dudes from Seattle surely have little in common with Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and the great bluesmen of north Mississippi who developed the distinctive and influential Hill country blues sound. But they share knowledge of the same truth: Nothing soothes the soul like boogie music.

Lonesome Shack’s new 10-track album, “More Primitive,” is the group’s first for Alive Naturalsound Records, the label that discovered The Black Keys and released that now platinum-selling group’s first album. It has an authentic, lived-in feel. At the same time it’s more accessible than the group’s previous work, and you could see it appealing to fans of blues miners like The Keys, Jack White and the North Mississippi Allstars.

Ben Todd lovingly recreates a sound that’s mostly disappeared with the deaths of Kimbrough and Burnside with vocals that are high and plaintive in the old style and yet lyrically modern. His acoustic and electric guitar work creaks and crawls (“Old Dream,” ”Evil”) or builds to a ramshackle sprint (beat tracks “Big Ditch,” ”Wrecks”), depending on the mood. Everything’s driven along by a tirelessly bouncy groove provided by bassist Luke Bergman and impressionistic drumming from Kristian Garrard.

On the title track, Todd sings, “I want to live, I want to live more primitive” to a Pied Piper beat, and not only do you believe him, but you also want to join him in the pursuit. Dancing all the way.

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