Robert Belfour - What's Wrong With You (LP Fat Possum Records)
Another one of those wonderful front-porch blues guitarists, Robert 'Wolfman' Belfour's personal take on the blues comes across as strong willed; a strength, despite the hardships, that comes of playing and playing for 40 years before this album came out. What's instantly attractive about his songs and way of playing and signing is the clarity of his playing of style. He's gotten through many stages of evolution (that all musicians go through) before finding his one true sound. To put it another way, he's put in his 10,000 hours and then some.
Born in Hollysprings Mississippi his interest in the blues began by listening to WDIA radio's blues broadcasts in the late '40's. Later on, moving in 1968 to Memphis Tennessee with his wife Norene (a track named after her appears on the album) and ending up in a gruelling labouring job made him grasp at the one hope that would give his life a meaning - the blues. It's been a long and arduous road but he got there in the end by eschewing the concept of performance and concentrating on the core of music - working on the sound and songs for yourself.
One of his great loves are the recordings of Junior Kimbrough, and on this nine track studio recorded (in 2000) album he covers Kimbrough's 'Done Got Old' and 'Black Mattie.' What's particularly rewarding about listening to the album is that it's, largely, just Belfour and his guitar. Unadulterated blues. Bryan Barry does add drums for 'My baby's Gone' and the title track 'What's Wrong With You.' His somewhat understated drumming bolsters Belfour's songs, adding a little something that does not detract from the work itself. Good work.
A genuinely wonderful, timeless album that adds to the collective knowledge of music as a highly individual experience. HM