Review: ‘Live In London’ by Kingfish is a Reminder of the Power of the Blues

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Live in London
4.5/5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

If you ask the modern torch-bearers of the blues, people like Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal, they will tell you that Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is the new game in town. He is providing a youthful, modern, and necessary take on the genre. His latest offering is the surprise live album, Live In London, released on Friday (September 15).

The Grammy-winning 24-year-old Clarksdale, Mississippi-born guitar player, songwriter, and singer opens his new live album, which was recorded on June 6, 2023, with one of his signature songs, “She Calls Me Kingfish,” a lament about lost love. Kingfish dances on the song like a dancer in diamond-studded blue suede shoes.

[RELATED: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram Talks Upcoming Tour, Expression and Lineages]

“This album is a short lifetime in the making,” Kingfish said. “I’ve long had an interest in recording a live album and I finally felt the timing was right. Not only do I have a deeper catalog of music to choose from, but I also have been extensively touring with my band, both of which truly made recording a live album seamless. Sprinkle in the opportunity to perform in a city I love, it’s all a no-brainer and something that makes me deeply proud.”

For the blues artist, who released his debut self-titled studio album in 2019 and his follow-up, 662, in 2021, the new record might be better than both. Some genres, songs, and artists can just be more impactful live than in the studio. There is just something about their essence or flavor that translates better to improvisation and the interplay with a crowd. And while Kingfish’s studio records are remarkable, there is something even more magnetic about Live in London.

The blues are a conversation. Sometimes with yourself, sometimes with a crowd. And this album talks. For all the conversation about Kingfish going on, this may be the best example of why he has generated such discourse. From the mournful toe-tapper “Fresh Out” to the eerie warning, “Another Life Goes By,” the record is bolstered by Kingfish’s willingness to say what needs to be said and a booming bass line with a sharp drum behind him.

Where does hate come from
And how can we make it stop
We got to make some changes
Before somebody else gets shot
We need to pay attention to the helpless cries
We need to stop the madness
Before another life goes by

Not only does Kingfish say what he needs to say, but he plays what he needs to get out. The blues are often about purging oneself of the troubles. And he does so vocally and with his six-string. “Empty Promises” simply wails. As does the instrumental “Mississippi Night.” The acoustic “Something In the Dirt” is a jangly opportunity for Kingfish to tell about his origin story and blues icon Robert Johnson’s history in Clarksdale.

Indeed, even though Kingfish is not even 25 years old, the record is deep with history and feel. It’s no wonder so many have dubbed him “next up.” This album could be his best yet. His most compelling, the most authentic, not only to the genre but to Kingfish, himself.

And that’s a whopper of a win.

Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic

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