National Treasure Lurrie Bell has endured and overcome more heartache and pain than most of us will ever know and has spent a lifetime learning how to channel those experiences into his music. The name on the front and the title of the record tell you everything you need to know before you hear a note: Lurrie Bell and Blues In My Soul. It's actually redundant because he wouldn't do it any other way. He's incapable of playing a false note and wouldn't if he could.
All the ingredients are here for a great Lurrie Bell record and once again, we needn't even hear a note because the artwork presents the compelling case. The front cover tells us he is back on Delmark Records and is backed by the group of musicians with whom he most often plays: Matthew Skoller (harmonica), Roosevelt Purifoy (piano/organ), Melvin Smith (bass), and Willie Hayes (drums). The back cover tells us the album was produced by acclaimed producer and historian Dick Shurman. Our hero is in good hands. It also tells us Bell has selected the best of the best in terms of material for this album, performing songs by Little Walter, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann, and Big Bill Broonzy as well as a few originals.
So let's open the jewel case and put this disc in the stereo already! Some artists need to be challenged and pushed out of their comfort zone to be at their best but Bell's transcendent talent shines brightest when he's allowed to be himself. He drenches us in the power and beauty of his artistic soul, unleashing his instrumental skill and passionate voice on each of these 14 songs. Blues In My Soul embodies the beautiful contradiction of its titular idiom: music of sorrow, pain, and regret that bursts with joy and vitality.
National Treasure Lurrie Bell has once again shared with us his bounty and we are all the richer for it. He's as great as he's ever been and may have created the best record of his rich career.