More years ago than I care to remember, I came across a young Blues musician by the name of Chris Whitley.  I became a big fan of his and one song from his ‘Living With The Law’ album, in particular, has become an all-time favourite of mine. 

So, when I saw a band named ‘Dust Radio’ on the bill at The Congleton Jazz & Blues Festival 2021, I was curious. Things working out the way they invariably do, I missed their performance on that occasion. I was intrigued by the name though. I located them on Bandcamp, listened to their music, got their ‘Shotgun Shack’ EP, and decided that, Yes, I did rather like this.

With their new album, ‘Problem & Remedy’, Paddy Wells (Harmonica/Vocals) and Tom Jackson (Guitar/Vocals), have collaborated on a rather excellent selection of oldschool, dark, gritty tales of another time and place. Drifters, scurrilous vagabonds, preachers, women, snake-oil salesmen, whiskey, guns, gambling – all the staples are present and correct – populate these torrid portraits with characters that you can picture, creating lurid soundscapes with some very tasty guitar work, dirty riffs, and vibrant, pulsating harp. The vocals are well-suited to the rest of the music, creating an overall cohesive sound that really does give an authentic, traditional feel. 

There are some lovely acoustic moments on this recording, such as The Canyon, but most of the tracks feature bassist Stu Baggaley and drummer Stevie Oakes. The album opener, ‘By Way of Flat Sam’ is a playful little tune, whilst ‘Face Don’t Fit’ is no-messing blues rock. The title track ‘Problem & Remedy’ is surprisingly catchy and hummable and then, there is the 9 minute tour-de-force, No More Trouble. The intro to this track reminds me of the start to Get Carter, but that might just be Me! It’s a great tortured-soul track that oozes pain and suffering, with both guitar and harp solos wringing out every ounce of distress. The cover of I Walk On Gilded Splinters is just sublime. ‘Nuff said.

It’s a raw sound, mind you. If you are after slick and smooth, move along. To me, it sounds pretty damn good though. This is The Blues, after all. There is something here for all lovers of blues harmonica and guitar music. Buy it. Play it. Thank me later!