When one gets a house call from a doctor, there comes a distinct hope that it results in one soon being on the road to starting to feel a lot better. Marshall Lawrence “Doctor of the Blues” certainly knows how to make one feel a lot better, especially with his new release “House Call”, for which relief from what ails you, particularily the musical doldrums, comes as quickly as the opening notes of the very first track. In fact, “House Call” is one of those musical pills that will have you not only up on your feet in no time at all, but using those feet for what they were often meant for, and that is dancin’ them off.
Marshall Lawrence, by the way, actually is “a bonafide PhD, holding a doctorate in psychology”. Ironically it was a fan that laid the nickname “Doctor of the Blues” on him, not knowing that Marshall actually held a doctorate.
“House Call” marks the 4th release by Marshall Lawrence, and has no problem at all confirming that Canada’s best Acoustic Slide & Finger-Style Blues and Roots artist, shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, offering up 13 great Tracks, which include 11 all new Originals, all penned by Lawrence, and 2 really nice Covers, “Death’s Black Train” (Traditional) & “Canned Heat Blues” (Tommy Johnson).
For “House Call”, Marshall Lawrence once again had a mighty fine lineup of artist join him, which included, The Twisters David “Hurricane” Hoerl (Harmonica), Russell Jackson (Upright Bass), David Aide (Hammond B3 Organ), Barry Allen (Background Vocals), Dwayne Hrinkiw (Drums), and very Special Guests, the Legendary Holmes Brothers. In addition to Marshall Lawrence’s uniquely suited Delta Blues Vocals, he also brings along a suitcase full of musical instruments which included his trio of National Guitars, as well as, Mandolin and Tambourine. He also brings what he calls Organic and Industrial Percussion to the mix in the form of Thigh Slaps, Finger Snaps, Hand Claps, Steel Chains and Steel Plumbing Pipes.
For the music on “House Call”, Marshall Lawrence sticks with a more Traditional formula of having songs which are not to long, with all of the Tracks clocking in at under 4 minutes. This type of formula makes for a more intense power punch, with the music and the message, getting straight to the point.
Speaking of getting straight to the point, that is exactly how “House Call” starts off, with “Mean Momma Blues”, a great Porch Stomper of a Blues tune. This opener lets you know right away that you are in for a special ride that is going be filled with outstanding Guitar work, great Vocals, great Lyrics, great Harp work, and a Superb Rhythm section to name just a bit of the attraction that is “House Call”.
“I Got To Ramble” continues with Lawrence and Hoerl working beautifully on Guitar and Harmonica.
Special Guest, the Holmes Brothers, bring their majestic harmonies to the Gospel number, “Factory Closing Blues”. Described as a Raw Delta Shuffle, this beauty is worth the price of admission alone.
One of my many favorites, on “House Call”, was Track 5, “The Ballad Of Molly Brown”, a tune done Rollin and Tumblin’ style, but with the tempo really cranked up a few notches. Any doubt you may of had about Marshall Lawrence’s Guitar Picking Prowess, is surely kicked to the curb as you listen to this beauty.
Showing us that he is just not a one trick pony, Marshall Lawrence brings a little Classical and Latin feel to Track 6, “Biscuit Rollin Daddy”.
Harp lovers will once again be treated to David “Hurricane” Hoerl’s great playing on Track 7, “Rich Man Can’t Get The Blues”, a song which shows sympathy for the Rich and Poor, whether you are Black or White. Hoerl has a great solo section about halfway through this Slow and Genuine Blues tune.
For the Tommy Johnson Cover, “Canned Heat Blues”, Marshall Lawrence drop D-tuned his Guitar to offer up, yet again, another splendid lesson on how to play Authentic Delta Blues.
Track 12, “Hey Girl (Tired Of Your Lying)”, offers up a great Boogie Jump style Blues tune, that must of had David Hoerl grinning from ear to ear, as that is the style that he plays best with The Twisters.
Every Delta Style Blues album should have a train song and that is exactly what you get with the closer on “House Call”, with “Death’s Black Train” which features Dwayne Hrinkiw’s hard slow Drum beat throughout. This tune also features the Background Vocals of Barry Allen which along side Marshall Lawrence, offer up some great harmonizing Vocals throughout the chorus line. A really nice closer to “House Call”, especially the end, with Dwayne Hrinkiw’s Drum beat slowly fading out.
When it comes to Marshall Lawrence’s music, I can’t say enough good things about it. He certainly continues to amaze me with each new album he releases, with this one surely being his breakout album, if there ever was one. His trueness of character and his undying dedication, love, commitment, and enthusiasm for his craft, continues to place him in a rare league of his own.
5***** for “House Call”… I highly doubt there will be a better Acoustic Blues Album released in Canada for 2013…
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)