The Upshot: A curious listen, it goes all out.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
C.W. Stoneking conveys an air of authenticity worthy of one who hails either from the swamps of the Louisiana bayou country or the muddy fields of Mississippi. Practically a one man band, he makes the most of his rudimentary recording techniques to convey a sepia-tinted sound, one that’s raw, roughshod and flush with boogie, blues and swing. Yup, Stoneking is the real deal.
That is, all except for the fact that he doesn’t hail from the hinterlands at all, but comes by way of the Land Down Under. Nevertheless, Gon’ Booglaloo, his third album to date, is so raw and resilient, it’s easily mistaken for the real deal. Indeed, there are some concrete connections. A product of the Australia’s Northern Territories, he grew up in those remote environs listening to gospel, ragtime and blues, taking his cues from legacy artists like Robert Johnson, Son House, Skip James and Bukka White. The influence is apparent — most of these songs sound like they might have been recorded back in those men’s heyday. The backwoods stomp of “How Long,” the swampy sounding “The Zombie,” the shuffle and stutter underscoring “I’m a Jungle Man,” and the loosely limbered “Mama Got the Blues” all affirm the fact Stoneking’s learned his lessons well.
Of course, any effort this primitive is going to have a limited audience. The backing vocals are offhanded and often unintelligible, while the arrangements are thin at best. The production values are practically negligible due to the archival effect. Still, Stoneking’s intents are obviously pure and prone to imperfection. A curious listen, Gon’ Booglaloo goes all out.
DOWNLOAD: “Mama Got the Blues,” “I’m a Jungle Man,” “How Long”