BEST BLUES ARTIST (2001)
Joe T. Cook
The thrill of Joe T. Cook's Longshot (Blue Loon) is in hearing a regular Joe become a bona fide blues singer. It's the sound of a guy who has toiled for years in the local scene, taken a half-decade break from recording, then emerged again sounding none the wiser (or more wised-up) but somehow more confident in his uncertainty. Cook has long been able to breathe the chill of death into his harmonica, pouring gas on a Chicago-shuffle genre forever in danger of sounding staid. But who knew his tremulous voice could earn so much empathy? Now his rich but raw sound, fussed over by guitarist and producer John Franken, lends crunch to Cook's surprisingly affecting originals--including the robust title track, which sounds as world-class and timeless as the Willie Dixon standards this musician cherishes.