Cedric Burnside Delivers Sweet Spot LP With ‘I Be Trying’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

One of the top purveyors of hill country blues today, Cedric Burnside has this music flowing through his veins. The grandson of RL Burnside, Cedric has been playing since he was thirteen, and on I Be Trying he has put his best foot forward with the most complete album of his career. 

From songwriting to singing to guitar playing to mixing up the style enough to keep things interesting, Burnside’s blues are delivered with a sense of optimism and love after going through the tough times of 2020 and surviving the darkness all around. Burnside recorded in Memphis at Royal Studio with a tight band consisting of Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars), bassist Zac Cockrell (Alabama Shakes), and drummer Reed Watson (John Paul White). 

The group gets going with the slide guitar accented “Step In” while the stuttering “You Really Love Me” and the rolling “Hands Off That Girl” recall RL’s best and can go all night. Burnside injects gospel tinges into the title track and “Love Is The Key” while some funky beats and chunky guitar work winningly spruce up both “Gotta Look Out” and the super slick “Pretty Flowers”. Closer “Love You Forever” finds Burnside experimenting with falsetto singing and broadening the vocal scope of the record. 

Two of the best songs here switch up the style as Burnside delivers solo acoustic numbers. “Bird Without A Feather” is a deep offering that weaves through marvelous six-string work while album opener “The World Can Be So Cold” is a stunner with Burnside’s guitar setting the tone while his affecting lyrics and singing delves into the heartfelt blues. 

I Be Trying hits the sweet spot and when the players deliver the goods during the smoking hill country blues of “Keep On Pushing” everything else seems to slip away as Cedric Burnside confidently carries on traditions while successfully injecting his own spin on the genre.   

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