Because of its emotional nature, blues is one of the few genres in popular music that has a near-universal appeal, and guUs doesn’t mind giving us a refresher on the subject in his new single “Baron Saturday.” Sourcing the bulk of its melodic charisma from a delta variant that has been an influence over some of the best in western music’s history, “Baron Saturday” has the look and feel of something vintage as well as the performance pedigree of something modern and quite contemporary, and as compelling as it is, it’s only one of two new singles this singer/songwriter has out right now.
guUs’ other track out this month, the more jazz-themed “Moonhangin Man,” sees his vocal striking up a rich chemistry with the pace of the percussion that is tantamount to the chills factor that we find it creating with the string play in “Baron Saturday.” Although I had not listened to this player before getting into these two tracks, I think it’s quite evident that his style is one that presents better in an old-fashioned organic setting than it is anywhere else. He can play to the classics brilliantly, but he doesn’t have to lean on someone else’s concept to do so.
The beat is a strong pivot point for guUs in both songs, and I love the way the arrangement in “Moonhangin Man” allows for him to slink about in the forefront of the mix as opposed to in the shadow of the drums. There’s a freewheeling, bendable twist to his execution in this performance that makes him the perfect sort of crooner to be playing jazz music, but the arrogant attitude that I’ve come to associate with a lot of the crossover players I review is simply nowhere to be found in this recording.
Humble lyricism adds to the expressiveness of these singles, and it’s one of the main centerpieces to behold in “Baron Saturday.” The sting of the verses is made just a little sharper thanks to the rusticity in my man’s voice, but he’s sticking to a more conservative delivery than he has to – likely to emphasize the emotional subtext of the lyrics. The narrative comes first in this performance, which, when taking into account the lack of over-the-top frills in the music, is a nice change from what a lot of guUs’ contemporaries would have done.
It’s hard enough to get the attention of mainstream audiences with one single let alone two, but I can understand why a lot of fans and critics are taking notice of guUs this season and bringing attention to “Baron Saturday” and “Moonhangin Man” alike. There aren’t many players who have the ability to rock between blues and jazz seamlessly and by the whim of their own lead vocal as this artist is able to in both of these songs, and provided he’s as consistent as he is inventive in the recording studio, this isn’t going to be his last moment in the spotlight at all.
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