Dave Arcari is a well-travelled man. The growling Scottish bluesman is particularly revered in Europe, as Whisky In The Blood proves. Arcari teams up with a couple of esteemed Finnish musicians (Juuso Haapasalo, bass, and Honey Aaltonen, percussion) to deliver a credible dosage of what Arcari does best. It’s nothing new, but we like it that way.
The ghosts (or lyrics at least) of ten thousand dead blues singers make their presence known on ‘Cherry Wine,’ which I had first mistaken for a Blind Lemon Jefferson song. By contrast, ‘Rough Justice’ and ‘Day Job’ recall the everyday madness of life in a way that makes it seem funny. A little self-deprecation goes a long way in roots music.
Even more so than most of Arcari’s previous offerings, this album is raw in sound and in delivery – and much better off as a result. In some ways, the bleakness of ‘Still Friends’ brings to mind The Pogues at their least elegant. So you’re well within your rights to uncork a bottle and grow ponderous during this song.
Arcari isn’t shy about his influences. Two songs by Robert Johnson (‘Travelling Roadside Blues’ and ‘Preachin’ Blues’) and one by Bukka White (‘Jitterbug Swing’) are covered – in a familiarly rambunctious style – on this album. These tracks only reinforce the importance of pre-war Delta blues to Arcari’s sound.
Furthermore to this being a good album, it can also be utilised as a drinking game. For example, if one should take a drink each time Arcari alludes to travelling or mentions whisky or the devil, one will be suitably blootered by the time the CD is fully played. Bluesbunny, of course, advocates that everything, including moderation, is done in moderation.
Everything that you’d expect from a Dave Arcari CD – grit, whiskey, apparent anger – is here. In contrast to the overly-polished Got Me Electric album he released a few years ago, Whisky In My Blood is much better for its unapologetic bawdiness. The man must have pirate blood in him…