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Hans Theesink - Journey On
HANS THEESSINK - "Journey On" - Blue Groove BG-8020

Traditional music is a broad church, and with its oft-documented history and surprisingly varied formats, the twelve-bar blues must have its place in the choir. Although his contact address is in Austria, Han Theessink's latest album was undoubtedly born in the USA - the cover shows him barrelling a Cadillac convertible through a flatland sunset with his National Steel in the passenger seat. The disc reveals a man as laid-back as the landscape he traverses, singin' the blues with a voice the texture of black molasses and playing guitar as if he were born to it.

With eight of his own compositions and three covers of songs by Leadbelly, Rufus Thomas and Muddy Waters, the overall feel is deeply acoustic, devastatingly competent and perfect for rural Cadillac driving, though barbs in the lyrics banish any complacency. He is supported by like-minded and similarly proficient players, including the notably-named Cindy Cashdollar on dobro and John Sass, who convincingly fills the bass space with tuba on several tracks.

At first hearing it seems like a bunch of bluesers have just kinda bumped into each other and bashed a record out, but deeper listening reveals the care that has gone into these arrangements, resulting in a work that is disarmingly straightforward at the onset, but reveals new treasures at each subsequent listening. In short, it's a diamond.

Blues aficionados will already have this - he is deservedly outstanding in his field. However, if your CD rack is a bit light in the twelve-barwardly department, "Journey On" is the ideal makeweight. Nobody living does it better.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.