Luke Winslow-King has left New Orleans for his native Michigan, but the sound of the Crescent City still resonates in his music | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Luke Winslow-King has left New Orleans for his native Michigan, but the sound of the Crescent City still resonates in his music 

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click to enlarge Luke Winslow-King

Luke Winslow-King

Victor Alonso

On his latest album Blue Mesa (Bloodshot), suave roots-rock maven Luke Winslow-King has thankfully expunged the acrimony that dripped from his 2016 breakup album, I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always—suggesting that album title was a testimonial. Back then his vitriol toward an ex was so strong he called her out by name, so it’squite a contrast when he opens his new album with an expression of unconditional support on “You Got Mine.” The acceptance and tenderness in lines such as “If indignation and despair / Have you feeling like life ain’t fair / Come on over baby, pull up a chair,” is heightened by the fact that the person Winslow-King wrote the song with, New Orleans fixture “Washboard” Lissa Driscoll, died from throat cancer not long after he cut the track. Winslow-King has left the Crescent City, which he called home for 15 years, and returned to his native Michigan, but the imprint of New Orleans on his music is as profound as ever; the album mixes blues, swamp rock, and soul and serves it all up with a sense of calm and grace. I’m not sure where the blue mesa Winslow-King refers to is located, but between the ambling groove of the title track, the vocal quality of Roberto Luti’s aching slide guitar, and lyrics that describe how its natural beauty function as an emotional balm certainly make me want to pay a visit. There are some pretty dull moments of boilerplate blues-rock that veer toward MOR mouthwash, but even then Winslow-King sings with an infectious ease that values calm over anguish.   v

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