Will Derryberry - Roots

Published Wednesday 3rd January 2018
Will Derryberry - Roots
Will Derryberry - Roots

STYLE: Blues
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 158726-24904
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Having already released a couple of albums with a band, this 2003 solo release saw North Californian singer/songwriter Will Derryberry strip things right back for a collection of gospel blues songs that featured nothing much more than an acoustic guitar or a dobro for accompaniment. As a result, this was a delightfully intimate piece of work that saw Derryberry deliver some exquisite vocal and guitar performances - his soloing was particularly tasty - to ensure that otherwise big gospel numbers such as "Climbing Higher Mountains" didn't suffer from the minimalist instrumentation on offer. In fact, one could argue that Derryberry's work here was enhanced by keeping things simple with the message of hope and joy found in Jesus in the likes of the infectiously upbeat "Day And Night (The Way You Care)" and the celebratory "Hallelujah In My Life" feeling all the more personal and direct as a result. Throughout the release, Derryberry bust the myth that blues music is depressing by offering up some supremely buoyant performances that told of the unbridled joy his Saviour brought to his life - all delivered with a lightness of touch that breathed life into each song. More considered pieces like "What Do You Think" and "Heaven" added some light and shade but it was in faster numbers such as the Big Bill Broonzy-influenced version of "Tell Me What Kind Of Man Jesus Is" that the man really came into his own. Only a cover of Robert Johnson's "Malted Milk Blues" missed the mark - strangely out of place on this sanctified blues release with its tales of booze, good lovin' and ghouls - but this is still a must-have album for any self-respecting gospel blues fan and something of a career highlight from Derryberry.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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