Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rob Lutes & Rob MacDonald -- Live

R. Lutes & R. MacDonald

Over the course of four albums in 11 years, Montreal-based singer, songwriter and guitarist Rob Lutes has been steadily building a well-deserved reputation for his well-crafted songs, which often deal with difficult subjects, and entertaining live performances featuring his gritty voice and fluid blues-based guitar playing. Resophonic guitarist Rob MacDonald has played on most of Lutes’ recordings and has been his frequent on-stage collaborator since the time of the first album. On this intimate live album, the two Robs revisit 10 of Lutes’ original songs drawn from three of the earlier albums.

Among the highlights are “Uptight,” a commentary on the destructiveness of arguments that can escalate from something trivial or pointless, and “Keep a Man Down,” an angry song about a disintegrating relationship. The effects of too much alcohol on the lives of Lutes’ characters can be felt in both of those songs. Another is “Cold Canadian Road,” in which the protagonist seems determined not to let the relationship get to the disintegration of “Keep a Man Down.”

In addition to Lutes’ own songs, the Robs also offer four covers, including fine versions of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” which seems like it’s based on Eric Von Schmidt’s “Champagne Don't Hurt Me, Baby,” and Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Baby” (which is more frequently performed as “Drop Down Mama”). Both of those songs show Lutes and MacDonald’s facility and skills with traditional country blues styles.

It’s been about three years since Lutes’ most recent set of new material. I’m looking forward to hearing more before too long.

Pictured: Mike Regenstreif introduces Rob Lutes (right) and Rob MacDonald at the 2008 Festival Folk sur le canal.

--Mike Regenstreif

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