The Blue Guitar Sessions
2012 / EOne Music
Review by Michael Debbage
At first glance you are thinking why would the ultra talented flamenco guitarist make such a huge diversion and decide to play the blues? Please pay close attention to the title as The Blue Guitar Sessions focuses on the mood blue and not the musical genre of the blues resulting in the very first reflective and subdued recording from Cook. This was not the first effort to do so as The Rumba Foundation released 3 years prior was initially intended as a sparse more stripped down recording but it transformed into something completely different. So this time around instead of transporting us down the high energy musical superhighway that he usually takes us, Cook instead takes a sly exit and takes us down a gorgeous slow winding country road allowing us to inhale all the audio delights that comes with this very different road trip.
Jesse Cook has become famous for his cover songs and this trend continues here though this time around The Blue Guitar Sessions includes 2 of its 14 tracks dedicated to this behavior. Instead of burying it in the album sequence Cook opens with the well know “I Put A Spell On You” featuring a vocal performance from Emma-Lee. This is the better known cover of the two though the slow seducing sadness of “Ne Me Quitte Pas” composed by the Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel back in 1959 may be your less obvious choice over the two.
Otherwise the album focuses on the far more thoughtful compositions of Cook who decides this time around that there is no need for a high speed performance but a more restrained presentation. The more obvious choices are the optimistic “Fields Of Blue” (contrary to its title) as well as the stellar “Gone” that also includes the romantic accordion embellishments of Tom Szczesniak. Though Cook closes out the album with the slow shuffle of the subdued “Midnight” letting you know as a listener that it is time to end the sophisticated ball.
It has been less than twenty years since Jesse Cook released his high energy debut Tempest and seven original recordings since then Cook has yet to release an unimpressive album. While The Blue Guitar Sessions maybe a huge risk and something completely unique to his usual repertoire, this does not place his streak of striking recordings in jeopardy. Yes, as a listener your patience will be tested but you must allow for multiple listening before you come to an outright conclusion. It is so worth it as you will be richly rewarded for your persistence.
July 4, 2013