Guitars Exchange readers are in no need of explanation regarding the
art of the slide guitar, and even less on how difficult it is to master this technique,
one that only a precious few have managed to excel at. Maybe you have to be
born in Mississippi and live in Louisiana like Sonny Landreth to ensure the presence of the slide gene in your DNA
and become a true maestro. It goes without saying that his is the world of Blues,
but in his case fused with the characteristic zydeco rhythm and the
indigenous flavours found in the swamplands of his homeland - Creole
sounds with a soupçon of country.
With a spicy mix that gives his music enough kick to stand out in a genre overflowing with virtuoso talent, Landreth has thrived in the upper echelons of the sacrosanct Billboard's blues sales charts for years. Now he is back with his latest work, Bound by the Blues, a record that should be on every music-lover's 'must buy' list for 2015.
Landreth has been up on stage with his inseparable Fender Stratocaster over his shoulder for so long that he is already considered a living legend. Sadly, this cult figure in the States is hardly known this side of the pond. A man who has suffered a similar fate is John Hiatt, with whom Landreth has played on many occasions. A guitarist's guitarist, Landreth is revered by such great players as Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler, the latter even asking "the King of Slydeco" to lend him a hand back in the mid '90s. A quick look at his Zydeco shuffle on YouTube will leave you in no doubt as to his abilities and also confirm that surprisingly, his skin is in fact white. Slide guitar, by the way, is just one of this man's many great talents.
Bound by the Blues is a return to the simplicity of the guitar-bass-drum trinity, paying homage to the blues classics. Covers of Elmore James and Robert Johnson intermingle with his own material in which the styles of other guitar greats can be heard. One of them is the recently passed-away Johnny Winter, who Landreth pays tribute to using a Gibson Firebird, an instrument long associated with Winter, in Firebird blues.
Raw Delta Blues in its purest form. Sonny Landreth has forsaken his usual musical leanings and this time, just this once, he has done as these past masters would have liked it. Not a drop of jazz and only a hint of zydeco, for a change. His lightning quick guitar laps it up in what is a torrent of inspiration, but above all, impeccable taste. Pure heaven for the ears… but hell on the fingers.