A new album from Ian Siegal is always something to get the mind racing and the heart leaping: will this be one of his North Mississippi collaborations or will be featuring his Dutch band? A studio set or a live album?

What we have here is a studio recording with Ian playing with his Dutch buddies and, for me at least, playing the mesmerising and intense Blues he has made a reputation of over the years.
All 10 tracks are written by Siegal or in collaboration and production was by Jimbo Mathus so the North Mississippi link is still there.

So, do I like it? Does the fact that it has been played through a half dozen times straight give a clue?

Siegal is in fine voice, gravelly and dark but still full of emotion be it the almost spoken word of ‘Eagle-Vulture’, or his pleading tone on ‘Won’t Be Your Shotgun Rider’ or his humorous delivery on ‘Sailor Town’. Every song tells a story and, as usual with Ian Siegal, his lyrics are crucial to the song – no throwaway tracks here.

His band features long-time guitarist Dusty Ciggaar, Danny Van’t Hoff on bass, Rafael Schwiddessen on drums and Jimbo Mathus pitching in on organ, mandolin & piano and it has to be said that the playing is generally beautifully understated but always hits the mark. There is no question that Ian Siegal is in the lead but the band, and the fact that they are playing as a band, are crucial to the sound and the tone of the album.

There are many fine tracks if you want to pick them at random – ‘My Flame’ is a beautiful love songs with gorgeous pedal steel from Dusty and Siegal pouring tons of soul into the song without ever getting over the top. In a soulful vein, ‘Sweet Souvenir’ has a rare gospely feel to it and ‘Ain’t You Great’ has a sardonic and bitter touch to the lyrics and playing – probably the most political number here but more importantly a good enough song that it bears up to repeated listening.

This feels like Ian Siegal in his natural habitat, fronting a band of compadres and with the freedom to play in many different forms and I would have to say it is one of the best from him in years.
A total stunner.