Lightnin Malcolm: Rough Out There (ShakeDown Records)
As a member of the North Mississippi Allstars, Lightnin Malcolm is best known for his raw bass playing, deeply rooted in Southern-fried blues. But on his latest solo album, Rough Out There, the man plays guitar, sings and reveals plenty of other musical personalities.
Rough Out There opens with a pair of straight-ahead blues cuts: the honky-tonker â€śWorkinâ€™ â€ť and the bop-till-you-drop â€śMy Lifeâ€™s a Wreck.â€ť He cues up the big horns on the funky pop of future Mississippi dancehall classic â€śDellareesa,â€ť â€śReality Checkâ€ť dabbles in reggae blues, the title track smolders with slow-burn hip-hop, and North Mississippi Allstarâ€™s Luther Dickinson shows up with his slide guitar for the pretty country ballad â€śGivinâ€™ You Away.â€ť Rough Out There closes with â€śHow Blessed You Are,â€ť a powerful Christian-influenced R&B cut that makes the mistake of using Auto-Tune.
By keeping most of this music as universal as possible, Rough Out There simplifies lifeâ€™s most complex issuesâ€”which is the albumâ€™s greatest strength.