Watermelon Slim ‘Golden Boy’ (Dixie Frog) 4/5

Vocalist, harmonica and slide guitar player Watermelon Slim (aka William P. Homans) is an artist who defies conventional wisdom and this latest effort that was recorded in Canada features that craggy voice in a variety of blues settings, that ranges from rural folk to electric blues, and taking on board blues-rock guitar hues along the way. In any case, it certainly works as a cohesive whole with a 1930s retro feel to the opening number, ‘Pick up my guidon’. There are shades of Robert Johnson even on, You’re going to need somebody on your bond’, which is really a vehicle for Slim to demonstrate what a fine slide guitarist he truly is. Possibly the blues-rock element could be downplayed a tad, and gets in the way on, ‘Wolf cry’, complete with sound of wolves replicated at the start. Most interesting of all are the lyrics to a political satire on combatting the neo-far Right in the united States. The seemingly innocuous title, ‘WBCN’, turns out to be an event (imagined or fact, we do not know) in Miami in 1972 when negotiated talks with neo-Nazis proved to be futile and violence ensued. Watermelon Slim deserves great credit for capturing this dangerous and deeply unpleasant underbelly of US society in musical format. A lavish booklet accompanies the CD in gatefold sleeve with evocative black and white photos and full lyrics which makes for an excellent read. Another mean brooding song is, ‘Mean streets’, with electrified guitar. While this writer has a marked preference for the rootsier side of Slim’s repertoire, with the folk-blues of, Cabbage town’, an album highlight, it has to be stated in fairness that Watermelon Slim has a wide and expanding gamut of blues influences and is adept in using them. Mark this down as an authentic journey through the blues.

Tim Stenhouse