Blues Hall of Famer Bobby Rush continues to defy Father Time, releasing quality records at a prodigious rate at age 72. It's a blessing for Rush to still be with us at all, let alone performing and working.
Down In Louisiana is a refreshing example of what happens when a veteran talent is given creative control. He releases his records through his own imprint, meaning he's not been relegated to a novelty act, forced into contrived album concepts or ill-advised duets.
The highlight of the record is the brilliant "Raining In My Heart," embodying the imagery of the album's cover with sepia background and a full-color guitar. In musical terms, it marries rustic, vintage ambience with just the right amount of modern thump keyed by rumbling bass from Terry Richardson. Rush's vocal is oh, so warm- particularly on the chorus where overdubbed and harmony vocals add soulful depth.
Rush walks the fine line between drawing from his roots and repeating himself for much of the rest of the album and more often than not stays on the right side of it. "Just Like A Dresser" is yet another in the long line of traditional blues innuendo pieces and you don't have to hear the song to guess the metaphor. What the title doesn't tell you is about the hard funk of this jam or the thundering low end from Richardson. That hard-boiled funk is evident later on the mostly instrumental "Rock This House."
In addition to borrowing well-worn lyrical themes, Rush has some familiar riffs and melodies on this record. "Boogie In The Dark" leans on the arrangement of Magic Sam's cover of Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago." "Don't You Cry" is a dead ringer for "When Things Go Wrong) It Hurts Me Too" with different lyrics. This is one of the rare instances where there's too much borrowing but Rush's fine harp work still gives this something to hang its hat on. Listeners should note there's a misprint on the CD mixing up "Tight Money" and "Don't You Cry, the fourth and fifth tracks.
Rush is at his soulful best on "Swing Low," a reworking of the traditional hymn "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." It's a lovely way to close the record and showcases the depth and character in Rush's voice these many decades later. Too many immortal talents leave too soon with too little evidence of their unique genius and there are icons like Bobby Rush, who stand the test of time and defy it.