Review: Grant Dermody Shines Further Light on the Blues

Grant Dermody/Behind the Sun/independent
Four Out of Five Star

Veteran singer, songwriter, and harmonica player Grant Dermody is living proof that the blues needn’t be monolithic, but instead, can be as varied as any other musical genre of vintage heritage. While his last album, Digging in John’s Backyard, recorded in collaboration with guitarist Frank Fotusky, found him paying tribute to an early icon, John Jackson, a prominent practitioner of Piedmont blues, his new effort, Behind the Sun, marks his return to an electric format, one that finds him accompanied by a band of veteran musicians. It draws its inspiration from the heritage of Louisiana, the place of origin for each member of his gathered ensemble, and the environs that Dermody himself currently calls home. The fact that the album takes its title from a song by Muddy Waters reflects and reinforces the insight and enthusiasm that Dermody plies with each of his efforts.

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Of the album’s fifteen songs, nine are originals, while the remainder are made up of covers by Waters, Rick Estrin, Jimmy Reed, Kim Wilson, and Otis Rush. Each offering stands on its own merits, be it the full-throttle boogie of “Trouble No More” and “Don’t Boss Me,” the demonstrative stance found in “Forgive Me,” the driving instrumental “Lost John,” the solid stomp of “Footsteps in the Hall,” or the assertive sound of “Tell Me.” Other offerings provide a more measured pace, whether it’s the easy ramble of “Mourning Dove,” the gospel groove found in the a capella proviso, “Time Ain’t Due” or the steady stride of “She Come Running.”

Ultimately, Behind the Sun makes for yet another solid entry in a catalog that’s as varied and versatile as any within today’s modern blues realms. Credit Dermody for consistently moving the music forward while establishing a decidedly emphatic impression of his own.

Photo Credit: Alison Borrelli / Devious Planet

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