Review: Doug MacLeod – A Soul To Claim


Doug Macleod - A Soul To Claim

Doug MacLeod – A Soul To Claim
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Reference Recordings
Release: 2022

Tekst: Fons Delemarre

Doug MacLeod is een gelouterde en gelauwerde Amerikaanse bluesman. In de 80er jaren van de vorige eeuw had hij een eigen band, waarmee hij zijn eerste vijf albums maakte. Sinds 1994 speelt hij hoofdzakelijk akoestisch en in z’n eentje. MacLeod heeft zich op die manier ontwikkeld tot een blues-entertainer pur sang. In z’n eentje, met z’n gitaar, vertelt hij boeiende en humorvolle verhalen en zingt hij zijn blues.

In zijn geval gaat die niet zozeer over problemen, hard live en sores, maar meer over ‘narigheid met een glimlach, met een knipoog.’ Opvallend is dat hij op zijn nieuwste album ‘A Soul To Claim’ op vijf nummers bijgestaan wordt door innemend en spaarzaam spelende muzikanten: Rick Steff op keyboards, Dave Smith op bas en Steve Potts op drums.

Op die nummers schuift de klank van zijn muziek richting de sound van Keb’ Mo’ op. Voorbeelden: A Soul To Claim, Be What You Is, en vooral Grease The Wheel. Ook de nummers die hij in z’n eentje speelt hebben een fraaie Keb’ Mo’-feel meegekregen. Dat geldt zowel voor zijn gitaarspel als zijn zang.

De zeven nummers, waarvan één instrumentaal, die MacLeod in zijn eentje speelt, hoor je hem zingen en spelen op zijn oude, vertrouwde Waterloo ‘P-nut’ gitaar. Kenmerkend voor zijn muziek is dat er regelmatig meer gesproken dan gezongen wordt. Op sommige nummers is hij een verhalende zanger, zo u wilt: een zingende verhalenverteller. Voorbeeld: Dubb’s Talking Disappointment Blues. Voor de duidelijkheid: het resultaat mag er zijn!  

Tot slot een citaat van MacLeod over het wezen van de blues. “Blues is about the journey, it’s about speaking honestly from your heart. It’s a music of hope. No matter what cards you have been dealt — either the cards you started out with in this life, or the cards you’re holding now — if it’s not a good hand, you can overcome it. Hopefully I’ll make you laugh, cry and think, But most of all, I hope I make you feel, because that’s what this music is all about. There’s humor in my songs, but also messages on how to make it through this life. That’s what I learned from the old guys.”

Tracks en toelichting van Doug MacLeod:

01. A Soul To Claim
This song is about beating addiction and abuse. Those of us who have been abused or have been addicted know that we come from hurt. We have ways of repeating the same mistakes and perpetuating the negative cycle. This song talks about finally stopping that negative cycle.

02. Be What You Is
After all my years on this planet I’ve been noticing that many human beings have a hard time being themselves. In fact some are having a hard time finding and accepting who they are. Well, I got to thinking animals don’t have that problem. Animals are happy just being what they is. I see a lesson in that, so I wrote this song.

03. Money Talks
It sure does.

04. Where Are You?
As you might know I am a veteran, albeit not a combat veteran. But like so many vets I’ve known combat vets. It breaks my heart to see homeless vets begging for their lives while waiting for our government to be there for them like they promised. And it breaks my heart even more when I think of my vet friend who just couldn’t wait any more and left this world on their own. I hope one day we will finally take care of them. They protected us, it’s time for us to protect them.

05. Dodge City
Dodge City, Kansas? Nope. Washington DC, or Washington-Dodge City, or Washington D-Ceive if you will. I am fed up with politicians who simply lie to my face with no shame. Politicians who will not give a direct answer to a direct question. They make a flim-flamming used car salesman with one eye not trusting the other look honest.

06. Smokey Nights And Faded Blues
Danny Jesser wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music on this one. Danny got the idea for this song back in the early 80’s when my electric band was playing at a club called Ruebens in Redondo Beach where George “Harmonica” Smith and Pee Wee Crayton often dropped by to sit in.

07. Only Porter At The Station
Sometimes we can fall in love with a person who comes to us with alot of hurt and pain. A lot of baggage if you will. They arrive at the station with all that baggage. You look around for some help, but you are the only porter at the station. So you help with the bags. Love will make you do that.

08. Mud Island Morning
We live on Mud Island, a sand bar in the Mississippi River. There’s a feeling that rolls along with that river. I’ve tried to capture that felling the best I could with this song. A lagniappe for you – some ’Bonus Tones’. You’ll hear the chair creaking and my rear end sliding across it.

09. Dubb’s Talking Disappointment Blues
Back in my lady trolling days, I found myself in some rather interesting situations. Now, of course, they weren’t quite as interesting as this song depicts… but I got a feeling you’ll get the point. As George “Harmonica” Smith would say, ”Sometimes things don’t always appear to seem as they might be.”

10. Grease The Wheel
This song comes from a simple truth that can take some of us a long time to get a handle on. If you want or need things to change in your life you got to take charge of your life. You got to grease the wheel.

11. Somewhere Down A Mississippi Highway
Years ago when I was in the Navy I was stationed in Millington, TN which is just north of Memphis. I couldn’t get the gals in Memphis to go for me so I decided to head down to Mississippi and give that a shot. I had no luck there either. But one night I fell into a place down around Tunica. I had a great time with some good music and good food. Heck I didn’t even miss the gals! In fact I had such a good time I still can’t recall exactly where it was.

12. There Is Always Love
After a first battle with cancer, our son Jesse was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. His only hope, and a slim one at that, was a clinical trial in Los Angeles. I was on tour staying with friends in the Philadelphia area. The Sunday night before my wife Patti Joy and Jesse saw the doctor to see if he even had a chance of survival was the toughest night of my life.
I couldn’t sleep. My friends lived in the country and there was a deck outside the room where I was staying. I went out to that deck that night and talked to the night. What I learned is in this song. The next day they saw the doctor and the doctor said not only did we have a chance, but a good chance. Now as I’m writing this, nearly two years later, I can tell you he has beaten cancer for the second time. So I want you to know that, no matter how dark things are for you – remember, There Is Always Love.

Doug MacLeod, guitars, vocals
Dave Smith, bass
Rick Steff, keyboards
Steve Potts, drums
Recorded January 13 and 14, 2020, at Bessie Blue Studio, Tennessee, USA
Producer and engineer: Jim Gaines