Harpist extraordinaire James Cotton needs no introduction, especially to any blues devotee. Now in his sixth decade of bringing blues to the world, his singing voice may be diminished from cancer treatments, but the voice and beauty of his harp is not. At just under 48 minutes, Cotton Mouth Man is intended as a celebration of Cotton’s career. Produced by Tom Hambridge (who co-wrote 12 of the baker’s dozen songs), the album is huge, and Cotton has said he is proud of the result. Along for the ride are guests Ruthie Foster, Keb Mo’, Delbert McClinton, Joe Bonamassa, Gregg Allman, and Warren Haynes.
This album will amaze and captivate from start to finish. “Cotton Mouth Man” is fast paced, with Bonamassa laying down some tasteful, tone drenched guitar goodness, superior harp playing from Cotton, and steady drumming from Hambridge. “Midnight Train” features a beautiful intro from Cotton, Chuck Leavell’s choice keyboarding, and Gregg Allman’s synergetic vocal. “Wrapped Around My Heart” is slow, smokey, and features a great vocal from Ruthie Foster, who is never anything less than stellar. “Hard Sometimes” is a slow shuffle with killer harp from Cotton, the perfect ivory tickle of Chuck Leavell, and Delbert McClinton’s smooth vocal. The slow, almost Rhumba like “Young Bold Women” is an orgasm for the senses. “Wasn’t My Time To Go” features more fine harp from Cotton, piano from Leavell, and a good vocal from Keb Mo’.
James Cotton’s Cotton Mouth Man delivers, in a big way. Aside from the guest artists stepping up (and then some!), the house band is excellent. Hambridge plays great skins on several tracks, Rob McNelly does a fine job on guitar, Glenn Wolf lays down beautiful lines on the upright bass, and Darrell NuLisch tops it all off with just the right vocal touch. Don’t miss out on this; get you some soon!