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NEW ALBUM: Ry Cooder - The Prodigal Son
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RY COODER ~ The Prodigal Son

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There’s a whole lot of meat on these bones. Ry Cooder is known for his exploration of sounds at the heart of different cultures and this is truly rootsy business. He continues to successfully meld the blues with African sounds, Americana, folk and rock. 

His voice sounds great, and musically, these songs all carry the Cooder stamp of quality. There are no hugely gymnastic guitar breaks and that sort of stuff, but what there is, which is an impressive array of stringed things and percussion, is beautifully arranged and played, most by Mr C himself. I found out after listening that it’s his son, Joachim handling percussive elements and co-producing with his father - and a fine job he does too. There are three original songs, some traditional, and some covers. One or two of them take me right back to the messy singalongs of my particular youth - the sheer fun of plinkety plonking away with whatever came to hand (tambourine, gourd, etc.) and enthusiastic (if some distance from perfect) attempts at harmonising.
 
In keeping with the title, there’s a lot of looking back, redemption and forgiveness going on, reinforcing the noticeably gospel/spiritual/blues tinged thread running throughout the album, and while one or two offerings are of the more humorous/tongue-in-cheek ilk, one or two more are of a political persuasion - gently so – no ranting – all very dignified, as befits a veteran of Ry’s stature! I find some of what’s happening here quite alternative too – or perhaps unorthodox would be the better word. 
 
You won’t hear pretty, easy tunes and will have to think about things and chew on them for a bit – maybe spitting out some grit along the way. I think it’s an exceptionally well made, mature album which although simple on the surface, is in fact deeply complex and sophisticated. When someone has this much expertise, it's like a second skin. He wears it so well and is so at ease - a pleasure to see and hear. I liked some songs better’n others …
 
“Gentrification” – very fab percussion – a Ry & Son original
“Nobody’s Fault but Mine” by Blind Willie Johnson – brilliant version IMHO
“You Must Unload” – by Alfred Reed
“Jesus and Woody” – Ry Cooder

No YouTube clips for the above – sorry …

There IS one for the title track - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-esL4PRCir8
 
And a live in studio rendition of “Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right” …. another Blind Willie Johnson composition …



"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
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