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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jack Barksdale

Live From Niles City

Review by Gary Hill

What an intriguing album this is. Some background, both on Music Street Journal and this artist, is in order. I've mentioned it before, but half of every issue has to be progressive rock. Over the last few years that's led to a real backlog of non-prog. So it can take a long time to get to reviewing something like this once it's - in this case, I think it was over a year. Well, that's kind of worth mentioning here because of the age of this musician. At the time this album was recorded, Jack Barksdale was 11. He's now 13. The really impressive thing is that, other than a train whistle, he does all the music on this, and he wrote most of the songs.

There is a real sense of maturity to his songwriting and performances. Other than his voice, which actually sounds younger than 11 to me, you would definitely not know that he is a kid. I'm reminded of how Joe Bonamassa got his start at such a young age. As it has been with him, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this musician. If you like slide guitar and roots music, you must check this out. I'm just sorry it took so long for me to get to it.

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Track by Track Review
Niles City Blues
The slide guitar on this is amazing. The cut is a killer old-school acoustic blues jam. There are some killer changes on this opening instrumental. It's purely on fire.
Widow of the Wind
This song is a study in contrasts. First we get a real old-time blues sound. Pair that with lyrics that are mature and poignant. Those two things go together well. Then add in the voice of an 11-year-old boy, and the whole thing seems somehow surreal.
Never To Love Me
Here we get another amazingly well-done piece of old-school blues. The talent is amazing.
Until The End
Again, the lyrics here seem like they would have been written by someone at the other end of their life. The music is classy and classic in sound.
My Mother Intro
This is an introduction where Barksdale talks about how he wrote the next song.
My Mother
There is a lot of country music built into this, but it's of the old-school variety. The harmonica brings some blues to the proceedings.
Revival Song No. 2
This is tasty instrumental with both guitar and harmonica in the mix.
Somber Sundown
There is more of an old-school gospel texture to this. It has country and blues built into it. It's also quite catchy and effective.
White Freightliner Blues Intro
Here is another introduction, where Barksdale talks about his harmonicas and introduces the next tune.
White Freightliner Blues
A fast paced, bluesy country number, this is another classy tune.
Folsom Prison Blues Intro
While tuning his guitar, Barksdale talks about Johnny Cash as he introduces this song.
Folsom Prison Blues
The slide guitar on this Johnny Cash cover is amazing. The whole tune just works really well. Hearing Cash's low-register vocals replaced by Barksdale's high ones is a big change, but it works.
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