At BluesBunny, we have no problem whatsoever with experimental artists. Of course, we draw the line at the pretentious art school homeboy who plays the beer bottle xylophone - beer bottles should never suffer such an indignity - but we are more than receptive to artists like Son of Dave, alias Ben Darvill, who manages to combine a normally appalling urban sound with soulful and penetrating harmonica.
This album plays like a raw studio session, and may be just that. "Leave without Runnin'" plays like a Captain Beefheart demo stripped of all but the good captain and his blues harp. Only stiffening the appeal is Darvill's baffling interest in beat-boxing. As if his harmonica proficiency wasn't enough, he has taken it upon himself to provide the backbeat as well. In theory, this could spell unmitigated disaster for any album. However, Darvill has successfully trodden new ground with this sincere musical gamble.
The album also benefits from the vocal offerings from English songstress Martina Topley-Bird on "Devil Take My Soul". Martina's wheedling vocals are a welcome opposite to Darvill's growling, though it must be said that on this track in particular, he sounds positively human. This song, with the right promotion, could be filling dance halls around the world.
Chances are you'll never hear as absurd a rendition of Robert Johnson's "Crossroad Blues" as is delivered here. However, chances are that you will indeed take to this harmonica-heavy performance. The musical endeavour ends with "Mannish Boy" - another harmonica-reliant blues relic.
While not standing out, this track is a well-chosen end to an album of great creativity and vision. Purists may scoff at the lack of traditional blues instruments besides the harmonica, but this merger of traditional blues and a popular urban sound certainly can come off sounding good; certainly in this case, it has.