David Hidalgo / Mato Nanji / Luther Dickinson
3 Skulls and the Truth
Blues Bureau International
BluesWax Rating: 8 out of 10
3 Skulls and the Truth is a terrific collaboration of three distinctly different and wonderfully talented guitarist/vocalists who bring their own unique flavor of blues to the table. First there is David Hidalgo, best known for his work with Los Lobos, and who recently worked on Bob Dylan’s Tempest album earlier this year, supplying assistance with guitar, violin, and accordion. Next up is Mato Nanji, guitar virtuoso from the band Indigenous. I’ve never seen him play live, but he’s now on my list. And finally there is Luther Dickinson. I’ve been a fan of him for some time now, starting with the North Mississippi Allstars’ first album, Shake Hands With Shorty. Filling out the band is drummer Jeff Martin (Racer X, Blindside Blues Band), and veteran blues bassist Steve Evans. Also notice that the album is produced by Mike Varney, founder of Shrapnel Records, known more for guitar-centric music, heavy metal, and hard rock. But don’t let that scare you away if you are not a hard-rock fan. This album is very guitar oriented and very good. Not only did Varney produce this album, he also wrote four of the songs, all of which are nicely done.
A slick mix of Delta blues and Texas blues, 3 Skulls and the Truth brings to mind that ZZ Top line, “I’m shuffling through the Texas sand but my head’s in Mississippi.” It’s no coincidence that line comes to mind, as it turns out, a couple of my favorite songs here, “Mississippi Clean” and “Coming Home” remind me a bit of ZZ Top from back in their Fandango days. I especially liked “The Worldly and the Devine,” with its extra helping of grunge. Nanji’s guitar playing on this is absolutely great, and the riff is catchy as hell.
It’s interesting the way the artists take turns for vocal parts and guitar solos. Each song gives each performer a couple of turns in the spotlight. Hidalgo, Nanji and Dickinson seem to jellify really well together without getting into a war of egos. I like this one, it’s definitely a keeper.
Phillip Smith is a contributing writer at BluesWax
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