Album Reviews

Michael Messer – Lucky Charms

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 6 February 2006

Michael Messer - Lucky Charms Now I really like it when English singers have the courage to use their own accent. It leads to a more pertinent, authentic experience and has the potential for something a lot more precious and undiluted. It’s something that Michael Messer does most of the time on Lucky Charms.

It must be even more rare when were talking about blues music, and this album is cut through with the sound of 100% true blue blues: from the dusty delta dirt that comprises the often rich and satisfying rhythmic background, to the prominent landmarks of the early American acoustic blues tradition, the album is shot through with the familiar and essential sounds of the blues.

In fact, to be absolutely peevish, it is often the overly familiar sounds that are a little wearing and tiresome at times. There’s a suffocating familiarity to the album. Michael Messer could do with having these blues clich├ęs knocked out of him. He could be headed towards some truly great and timeless original work, but Lucky Charms doesn’t demonstrate that he’s there yet.

From the opening sound of a lonesome train whistle to the digitally structured ‘LP crackle’ on several tracks, to the old southern bluesman singing in the background here and there, it’s been heard before.

Yet it’s full of potential – well styled and very obviously the product of years of living and breathing the genre. Memorable tracks include Sunflower River, a slow, humid honky-tonk which maintains an odd tugging tension throughout; Steve Cropper, which is a slightly boozy early evening boogie-woogie track, and the super funky slide track Sad Side of the Note.

Messer’s saving grace, ultimately, is his lyrics. This English bluesman sings about Ford Cortinas, London town and a generally English metropolitan/ suburban experience that proclaims what we, who listen closely to the breathing of London’s river, have always known – that the Thames is simply an extension or tributary of the Mississippi, that the same deep rhythms course through this town, the same underlying mystery, the same sad lament. If Messer can investigate more and develop this rarely utilised English blues he could turn out some really great music.

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Michael Messer – Lucky Charms