Cotton Mouth Man
The beauty of the blues is that it respects its elders. At age 77, James Cotton can still let it blurt on his harmonica with the same passion he brought to the records he made at age 19 or as a sideman to Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters during his extensive career. Here, his voice is but a shadow—but a poignant shadow it is on the gruff acoustic blues of "Bonnie Blue," where he and resonator guitarist Colin Linden keep it simple. The rest of the album features either Cotton's usual singer Darrell Nulisch on vocals or one of the many guests who stopped by to pay tribute to a living legend. That list includes Gregg Allman, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Delbert McClinton, and Keb' Mo'. The production and performances are no-nonsense and first-rate. To his credit, Cotton had a hand in writing nearly every song here. "Wasn't My Time to Go" is a statement of purpose. Delbert McClinton's "Hard Sometimes" gets a worthy blast of harp and sounds better than ever. Another career high point.