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Davis Coen "Magnolia Land"


Info & Reviews

Album Notes

Recorded in Como, Mississippi by Jimbo Mathus at his Delta Recording Service during separate sessions in March 2007 and July 2008. In addition to Coen's vocals and rhythm or bottleneck slide guitar picking on all tracks, the two separate rhythm section accompaniments include Darin Dortin on drums and Jimbo Mathus, bass for the '07 session then Kinney Kimbrough, drums, and Justin Showah on bass for the later. Jimbo Mathus (of the nationally touring Squirrel Nut Zippers) also highlights the track "Wrong Side Of Town" with his distinctive lead guitar picking. Three tracks also include Hammond organ flavoring by Lance Ashley who has appeared on previous Coen tracks including "Mambo Jumbo", which received heavy airplay on XM-Sirius Satellite radio. The album's twelve cuts consist of half Coen-originals shared with six traditional or classic blues penned by the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Big Joe Turner. Released also on the independent Memphis, Tennessee SOUNDVIEW label.

Reviews

(Soundview) 

by T. Ballard Lesemann

Charleston-based singer/guitarist Davis Coen dives deeper into the Mississippi Delta on his brand-new studio album Magnolia Land, a swingin' and deeply soulful 12-song collection recorded over the course of the last two years. 

Coen has a strong reputation for being able to pull just about anything from his sizeable mixed bag of traditional blues songs — from lonesome and dusty country blues to urban/Chicago-styled stuff to hillbilly twang. Here, he sings and plays with focus and confidence, picking up where he left off with last year's charming and scruffy Blue Lights for Yours and Mine. He tracked this cool new stuff at Delta Recording Service in Como, Miss., with James "Jimbo" Mathus (of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Knockdown South) at the helm and on occasional bass and guitar. 

It sounds like a full-band effort with drummer Darren Dortin and guest timekeeper Kinney Kimbrough laying down beats on every track. Other special guests include assist Justin Showah (of Afrissippi) and organist Lance Ashley. A few covers made it into the set, including Howlin' Wolf "Natchez Burning" and Muddy Waters' "You Gonna Miss Me." Coen's original tunes range in style from old-school boogie (the upbeat "Anna Ann" and "Eyes Like Diamonds") to funky juke-joint soul ("Wrong Side of Town" and the surprisingly romantic "Nothin' to Hold on To"). 

Coen states in a press release that this album is his first "to stray completely from my much-visited Piedmont acoustic guitar style ... for electrically charged arrangements rooted deeply in the musical environs present around the Hill Country and nearby Memphis." Capturing a healthy sample of that hilly vibe, he renders "Country Girl Blues" — one of several old traditionals on the album — convincingly with his salty, deep-note singing. When he sings, "She started leavin' early in the morning/Didn't get back until the break of day ... I didn't like that!" Davis sounds like some old, lonesome man on the porch scratchin' his head and sipping his bourbon, frustrated and heartsick. His waling slide guitar licks help paint the sad picture. Peppered with bad-ass Hammond B3 licks from Ashley, lead-off track "Tired and Lonesome" is among the many highlights of this impressive blues collection.


Juke Joint Soul - by Ben Cox

Last year’s Blue Lights For Yours and Mine was a new artist debut searching for a place in the blues landscape. Coen managed to find it as several tracks from the release gained heavy airplay on Sirius Satellite Radio. In the meantime, he has been playing hundreds of shows and has become a more concentrated artist; narrowing his musical landscape down for this release. Recorded in the heart of Mississippi Hill Country in Como at Jimbo Mathus’ (Squirrel Nut Zippers) Delta Recording Studio; Coen turns to this place’s rich musical heritage and even enlists some of its famed natives to help him out.

Coen has tapped deeply into the Mississippi Hill Country tradition on this release. With a quarter of the tracks here based in the stomp, drone, and slide that are signatures of names like Kimbrough and Burnside. Coen channels these men’s musical legacies with his knack for stripped, rough arrangements. Coen also likes to keep himself from the polish of the slick “big city” releases that come out from amongst his peers. Tracks like “Tired and Lonesome” with Lance Ashley adding a Jelly Roll Kings feel with his churchy warble of an organ and Coen’s throaty whiskey call on “Anna Ann” are all prime examples of Coen’s veer in direction to this more rough and rugged play. Coen’s also got some ample help in the rhythm section with Kinney Kimbrough on drums and Afrissippi’s Justin Showah helping out on bass guitar.

Coen also adds in some of what folks call “juke joint soul” rock flavorings like “Change In the Weather,” “Nothing To Hold On To,” and “Wrong Side of Town.” These three tunes sound like a blend of Eric Lindell meets the Black Crowes southern rock stylings. Mathus takes up the guitar for some Rich Robinson styled pickings on “Town” adding to the more southern rock feel. Coen’s covers here are somewhat mere reinterpretations of some under appreciated tunes by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Coen doesn’t have the gusto and presence to make “Natchez Burning” seethe with anger and eminence like Wolf’s original, but the tone takes on more of a lazy southern story teller. Coen’s revision of “You Gonna Miss Me” by Waters has some faithful and true in the pocket slide, but again Coen’s vocals aren’t quite able to sell the song with fervor as the original.

For Coen fans this a sound and amazing departure from his normal laidback Piedmont style pickings. His slide attack conjures the nasty Delta timing and speed of many Mississippi legends. For contemporary fans, he might sound like a drunk guitar player/singer but that initial interpretation is misleading. As non-deliberate as these arrangements sound, one with an accustomed ear is that these songs are very deliberate. Mississippi Hill Country blues is hard to play, especially those who aren’t born or baptized into its timing and rhythms, but Coen seems dually suited. Alt-rock fans who enjoy North Mississippi All Stars and the White Stripes might find this to be a welcomed stripped release that shows off more the ambience and skill it takes to play this style and play it well. Coen’s focus and playing seem more focused, more founded, and this one is definitely a toe-tapper.


By Grahame Rhodes (bluesinthenorthwest.com)

Following on from last year’s “Blues Lights For Yours And Mine”, the new release from South Carolina bluesman, Davis Coen, is a far different beast from that eclectic offering – a much more down-home blues album, recorded in Como, Mississippi, with the sessions overseen by studio owner Jimbo Mathus, who also contributed bass and guitar on some tracks, which were mainly recorded live in the studio.

The band basically features Davis Coen himself on vocals and guitar, two rhythm sections featuring the afore-mentioned Mathus on bass and Darren Dortin on drums, the other one, from the band Afrissippi, sees Justin Showah on bass and Kinney Kimbrough on drums – with keyboards from Lance Ashley and washboard by the mysteriously named Olga.

The 12 cuts are mainly self-penned, with a couple of traditional tunes and a cover apiece of a Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf song. The opening “Tired And Lonesome” rides on a swirling organ line from Lance Ashley, with Coen’s fine voice to the fore, with the pace taken down on “Change In The Weather”, before the slide-driven country blues of “Anna Ann”.

Given some of the personnel and the recording location, the whole release has that sort of Memphis meets the North Mississippi Hill Country feel – as evident on the rocking blues of “Country Girl Blues” – more tough slide work here – and the soulful feel of “Nothing To Hold On To”, with Ashley’s organ playing featuring prominently.

“Eyes Like Diamonds” has a Memphis rockabilly feel with Coen and the band tearing it up in fine style, with the Hooker-style boogie of “Goin’ Away Baby” following. Howling Wolf’s classic “Natchez Burning” is given a faithful, but modern, rendition, with the album closer, Muddy Waters’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me” another showcase for Davis Coen’s slide guitar work – and a fine conclusion to a most enjoyable release.

Davis Coen’s profile seems to be on the rise and “Magnolia Land” is a welcome addition to his recorded output – highly recommended along with the previous “Blues Lights For Yours And Mine” – nothing fancy here, just good down-home blues recorded by fine musicians!


Tracklist

1.Tired And Lonesome 3:54
2.Change In The Weather 4:28 
3.Anna Ann 3:03 
4.Country Girl Blues 3:06 
5.Nothing To Hold On To 3:42 
6.Eyes Like Diamonds 3:15 
7.Goin' Away Baby 4:47 
8.Wrong Side Of Town 2:38
9.Natchez Burning 3:37
10.Shake Your Goobie 4:15
11.Shortnin' Bread 3:04
12.You Gonna Miss Me 4:25

Listen To Samples Here

Bio

Blues circuit guitarist/singer Davis Coen's most recent accomplishments have included original instrumental music on the DVD release of director Martin Scorsese's PBS special 'The Blues'; backup guitar on the latest album by recently passed "Queen of the Mississippi Hill Country Blues Singers" Jesse Mae Hemphill, entitled 'Dare You To Do it Again' (along with live vocal/guitar performances on its DVD accompaniment); and as often as three times daily airtime on XM Satellite Radio, channel 74, through spring/summer '06; achieving No. 1 position for the week of July 8th. In addition Coen's music gets sporadic airplay on Sirius Satellite radio as well as numerous other blues programs in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South America.

.......Coen has been touring the U.S. since his teens, mostly as a solo acoustic guitar and vocal act, but currently joined by bass and drums performing as an electric trio. Davis commonly plays clubs, bars, theaters, and festivals throughout the Southeast, being based out of Charleston, South Carolina. He has also enjoyed a dozen tours of Europe, promoting his 3 album releases, Cryin' the Blues '95, Blues From the Get-Go '99, and Can't Get There From Here (Jan. 24th '06). 

......He has shared a bill or opened for many classic blues artists such as James Cotton, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Big Jack Johnson, North Mississippi All-Stars, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Eddie Kirkland, and Britain's John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. 

......This past March Davis played at a clean-up kickoff in Biloxi, Mississippi for a Katrina relief effort, performing before the Mayor and the City of Biloxi.

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http://www.daviscoen.com/

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