When the Devil Calls…Alone and Acoustic

HI-N-DRY Records

By Bill Copeland
March 2007

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The name Ted Drozdowski may not sound as similar as the names of southern black blues musicians such as Robert Johnson, Son House, and Blind Lemmon Jefferson. But Drozdowski has certainly mined the depths of his musical knowledge about early blues guitar pickers and singers.

A Boston native who will soon be moving to Nashville, Drozdowski works the slide guitar like he grew up learning music in the 1920s and 1930s. If Robert Johnson did indeed sell his soul to the devil, then Drozdowski was standing next in line to make his own offering.

Again, Drozdowski has released a record - solo and acoustic this time - under then name Scissormen, which he named his duo of himself on guitar and vocals with only a drummer for accompaniment.

This solo project gives the guitarist/vocalist a chance to showcase his wares in a singer-songwriter milieu.

Ominously, Drozdowski begins with title track "When The Devil Calls," a breezy, original tune carried by subtle picking that allows the singer to show off his voice - a voice precariously perched in a world between blues and punk, with feeling and soul clearly present, but with a tone and attitude that suggests this singer could pull out a switchblade and ward off troublemakers.

Segue to the next original, "Junior's Blues,” and we find Drozdowski serving up a full sound with his slide guitar and an authentic old time feel with his confident voice. I can picture him sitting on a wooded front porch, with the guitars all of the blues musicians from the era that inspires this chap.

Although the guitar becomes more essential upon closer listening on Drozdowski’s tune, "Brother," his voice is a strong presence, making me believe that he could sing without any music behind him at all, and still pull of a winsome performance.

The greatest gift in Drozdowski’s arsenal is his ability to create an atmosphere of emotion. He not only makes me picture an older, simpler time, but I can feel what his characters are feeling. His rendition of "Death Letter" by Son House captures the feeling of loss that would come with receiving a telegram announcement that a lover has passed away.

His best song here, "Mattie Sweet Mattie," features an impressive interchange of notes and chords with a slow tempo emphasizing the pace at which Mattie travels to prison. Drozdowski then creates an atmosphere with his slide to bring in the feelings of caged frustration, while a progression of single notes hold the tune together.

Tackling the Muddy Waters classic, "Rollin’ And Tumblin,‘" Drozdowski lets his slide become the star, conjuring up images of old train yards where the lumbering metal giants came chugging into and out of town. As the vocalist, Drozdowski does not have the steady rumble of Muddy’s low tenor, but he does make up for it with a steady rivulet of notes underneath his slide.

Personally preferring Drozdowski with his electric axe and drummer, I found "When The Devil Calls" a worthwhile journey into vintage blues.

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