ALL MUSIC GUIDE

Review of Willie McBlind's debut release, Find My Way Back Home


All Music Guide
December 2007
by Alex Henderson

When an artist has a name like Willie McBlind, one naturally assumes that the artist is a bluesman--and sure enough, blues-rock prevails on Find My Way Back Home. Willie McBlind, however, is not the name of a solo artist but rather, the name of a band; there isn't an individual named Willie McBlind who performs on this album any more than there was an individual named Lynyrd Skynyrd (who performed on "Free Bird" and "Sweet Home Alabama") or an individual named Jethro Tull who recorded an album named Aqualung. But the "band with a name that sounds like a solo artist" gimmick isn't the thing that makes Find My Way Back Home memorable; the thing that makes this 53-minute CD memorable is Willie McBlind's intriguing sound. Led by singer/guitarist Jon Catler and singer Meredith "Babe" Borden, Willie McBlind favors an unorthodox style of psychedelic blues-rock that is surprisingly artsy and quirky. The person who does the most to make Find My Way Back Home unusual is Borden; while Catler favors a gruff, Howlin' Wolf-ish vocal style that isn't unusual for blues-rock, Borden often hits the high notes in a way that suggests experimental jazz singers such as Sheila Jordan, Barbara Sfraga and Judi Silvano rather than a traditional blues belter like Koko Taylor or Ruth Brown. Borden, in fact, would probably fit right in on a Jackie McLean tribute project. Nonetheless, Willie McBlind shows plenty of blues grit on an album that draws on influences ranging from Robert Johnson to John Lee Hooker to Jimi Hendrix. Willie McBlind has no problem being both rootsy and artsy on this promising disc, which is well worth exploring if one is seeking something fresh and unconventional from blues-rock. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

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