February 2013

by Malcolm Kennedy




2012 Willie McBlind is Jon Catler on guitars and vocals, Babe Borden on vocals and autoharp, Mat Fieldes on bass and Lorne Watson on drums. Live Long Day is their 3rd CD, and it's full of train songs and was released on National Train Day, May 12th last year. Catler plays on fretless and microtonally fretted guitars playing something dubbed "Harmonic Blues." Microtonal means the notes between the notes employing 64 notes per octave. Willie McBlind is an intriguing mix of elements from both contemporary blues and modern rock. The music is edgy, brooding and the song choices are inspired. You will recognize the lyrics to some of the songs; but the delivery is something new and completely different. Borden is a classically trained vocalist and brings interesting and divergent aspects to her vocals from near screaming to lush harmonies she brings a lot to the overall impact of their music. One of my favorite tracks is "Live Long Day" which borrows a couple of lyrics from the traditional American campfire song "I've Been Working on the Railroad." The insistent driving beat of and slashing guitars of "One Thing" also got my attention. "Down The Road" has a double time rhythm of a train going down the tracks and Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain," although unrecognizable, except the lyrics has vocals and guitar that reach out and grab you. My favorite cut is "The Train That Never Came" which has a cool laid back groove and great harmonies; however I could do without the nine minute droning fade out. Willie McBlind's Live Long Day will not be everyone's cup of tea; but I believe that many Bluesletter readers will enjoy it as I did. Besides, what's not to like about a CD devoted to train songs?

- Malcolm Kennedy

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