I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Always Last
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The spare, high lonesome bluesy slide guitar that kicks off the opening gospel-inspired “On My Way” for Winslow-King’s third Bloodshot release (and fifth overall) is an indication of the distraught nature of the majority of what follows. The breakup theme running through this set is different and deeper than many we’ve heard before. The intensity of the sorrow infused through the songs on the somewhat deceptively upbeat I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Always Last is reflected on titles such as “Heartsick Blues,” “Change Your Mind,” “Act Like You Love Me” and, perhaps most powerfully, a direct plea to his soon to be ex — by name — in “Esther Please.”
Winslow-King has proven himself to be a respected musicologist of American roots over his past releases. Additionally, his history of teaching music as well as being a street musician in his adopted home of New Orleans has resulted in albums that reflect a decidedly retro spirit. While nothing here screams contemporary, the singer/songwriter/guitarist and his six piece band shift into a blues-inflected vibe that feels natural and doesn’t mimic styles of the past. Songs such as the sorrowful “Watch Me Go” (“tell me if you love me/ otherwise watch me go”) and the acoustic country folk that quotes Hank Williams in “Heartsick Blues” use traditional styles but never appear musty or overly referential of the older sounds that have dominated Winslow-King’s earlier releases.
The singer’s grainy, everyman voice works beautifully with this often sorrowful material, making it believable and potent. He belts out the repeated riffs associated with Mississippi Delta blues on the gutsy guitars of the title track, a song that may imply better days are coming but reflects Winslow-King’s turbulent feelings about the split both musically and lyrically. Even though the tunes are credited to him, it’s hard not to think of Muddy Waters, one of whose hits shares its “Louisiana Blues” title with this album’s similar sounding tune. Regardless, it provides Winslow-King a palette to display his formidable slide skills on the disc’s most openly blues moment.
It’s no coincidence he closes with the hopeful, sweet mid-tempo “No More Crying Today,” where he tries to shake off the bitter feelings and look to a more positive future, having reflected on his sadness and anger over the previous eight selections. It’s a wonderful way to wrap an album that’s almost painfully honest and forthright and shows Winslow-King doesn’t need to relive America’s musical past, or even his own, in order to create moving songs influenced by it.