Sleeping With a Stranger / Got It Goin' On
added: 6 Jan 2013
// release date: 21 Jan 2013 // label: Floating World
reviewer: Andy Snipper
Some artists suffer a catastrophe and spring forward from it and some let it take over their entire career. James Armstrong is one of those whose traumas served to help him redefine his music and this pairing shows how strength in adversity makes us all stronger.
In 1995 James Armstrong was being talked about in the same breath as Robert Cray or Coco Montoya and his ‘Sleeping With A Stranger’ album really shows his quality. A superb, soulful voice and a fluid guitar style, loaded with emotion and singing from his heart. He had the world at his feet and was working with the likes of Chaka Khan, Tommy Castro, Keb Mo.
Disaster struck when he was stabbed following a break-in at his home and had his collarbone removed as a result. He found that his left hand was extremely limited in its action after the surgery and the second album in this set, ‘Got It Goin’ On’ shows the new model James Armstrong after he re-learnt to play using slide and redeveloping his style.
Both albums are worth the price of this set – he is an excellent player, with a great feel for the music – but for me it is the second album that is the standout. His slide playing is strong but you can hear the style of a picker in the way he approaches his playing.
‘Pennies & Picks’ was nominated for a WC Handy award and the heartfelt vocals and subtly funky rhythm along with Jimmy Pugh’s organ really strike home.
‘Another Dream’ is a massively deep and strong number with superb guitar and a wonderful Hammond in the back.
When he goes uptempo as he does on ‘2 Sides’ he creates a dense and funk laden stew that just invites dancing and you also have echoes of his earlier material on the groovy ‘Likes Her Lovin’.
All round a terrific pair of albums showing both sides of a superb musician.
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