by Robert Bell
Hopefully, most Times readers are already familiar with the hypnotic Hill Country blues of guitarist Lightnin' Malcolm, who has paid several visits to the White Water Tavern over the last few years, often with Cedric Burnside as one half of the Juke Joint Duo.
On "Renegade," Malcolm's latest album, he teams up with drummer Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of the legendary bluesman Junior Kimbrough. The new album's tunes find Malcolm weaving in other influences, particularly on the reggae-tinged "Ain't Even Worried" or "Renegade," which has a Crazy Horse sort of vibe to it. "North Mississippi" is a gut-bucketful of funky R&B grit, with a trio of horn players providing punchy accents and an unexpected verse from guest rapper J. Grubbz that meshes perfectly with the rest of the song. There's no shortage of Malcolm's signature honey-toned blues numbers, though, such as the rowdy "So Many Women" and the good-times celebration "Come Go With Me."
Malcolm's music is certainly part of the long-running blues tradition, but in his hands it is no fixed genre exercise. This is music that's alive and kicking, mutating and absorbing new sounds while staying true to its roots.