Although Luke Winslow-King parted company with his wife and professional partner Esther Rose (to whom the album is dedicated, with perhaps not a little sardonic irony, for her part in helping him to better understand the true nature of love and loss), for his third Bloodshot release, his fifth overall, the Michigan-born bluesman remains rooted in his New Orleans base. This is evidenced by the organ pumping swing and guitar licks of Act Like You Love Me. However, the musical ripples here extend across a wider territory, the bottle-neck guitar of the opening gospel-hued On My Way and his warm, soulful tenor suggesting a Memphis groove, while the slow marching title track is firmly gutsy Chicago blues, even if the guitar work and the vocal delivery are more evocative of Hendrix than Muddy Waters. Travelling down the Mississippi, the slow moan Louisiana Blues pretty much speaks for itself, while the fiddle accompanied acoustic Heartsick Blues is firmly of a country persuasion, a mood echoed, with a more soulful tone, on the itchy rhythm and harmonica punctuated Change Your Mind.
His divorce inevitably informs most of the lyrical content (“She’s out on the floor with the Wasted Lives saying she’s better off on her own,” “Will you change your mind about me, while you stay all night at your friends’? Are we near the end, can we begin again?”, “I planned on giving all my love to you. But then, you take all my loving to another man”), specifically so, on the fulcrum track, the loping you-done-me-wrong but come-home-blues Esther Please.
There is, however, a final sense of, if not acceptance, then at least realisation, of letting go and moving move, embodied in the album’s two heartfelt ballads, the softly sung, country-soul slow waltzing, organ-backed Watch Me Go and the slightly more uptempo, slide-driven closing track, No More Crying (“I thought I lost my voice. Stood up and saw myself, and realized I had a choice. They’ll be no more crying today. No more trying today”). Painful though the experience may be, break-ups frequently result in some of an artist’s best work. This album is no exception.
I‘m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always is out now via Bloodshot Records
Photo: Press image via Bloodshot Records