Blues Sensation Christone ‘Kingfish” Ingram Reveals Personal Side on Second Alligator Release ‘662’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

When Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram broke through two years ago this writer began his review for another outlet with these words “Welcome to the anointing.” By now, blues fans already have accepted the young phenom as the future of the blues.  Glancing at this summer’s various festival lineup ‘Kingfish’ not only appears as a headliner at blues festivals but at roots and rock festivals too.  He’s got some pressure on his shoulders now, carrying the torch of traditional electric blues to the younger generation.  On 662, named for his birthplace, the area code for the six counties in Northern Mississippi, the now 22-year-old ‘Kingfish’ acknowledges both maturity and the mantle he wears.  

As with his debut, he links again with Buddy Guy’s two-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and drummer Tom Hambridge. This time though, Ingram co-wrote all but one song, all with Hambridge and some with Hambridge’s regular songwriting partner, Richard Fleming. The core of the album was recorded in Nashville and Ingram is essentially playing with core members of Guy’s and Hambridge’s band throughout – Hambridge (drums), Marty Sammon (keys), Bob Britt (guitar), Tommy MacDonald (bass). Nashville greats guitarist Kenny Greenberg and bassist Glenn Worf appear on four tracks with saxophonist Max Abrams and trumpeter Julio Diaz on one. 

The rocking opening title track, reveals the autobiographical nature of the album right away – “Sound oozing from the ground, and it cuts right through, you can only find here in the 662.” With ferocious lead vocals and searing guitar, he sings of churches on each corner, his dad’s job at Cooper Tires, and his brother moving to Baltimore.  Ingram, an astute student of the masters, knows all the licks of the classic players as well as Hendrix and Prince, and he doesn’t hesitate to mix rock with blues but mostly stays with the latter. “She Calls Me Kingfish “is a romantic burner and he pines for his significant other while on the road in “Long Distance Woman” (which, by the way, bears no resemblance musically to Muddy’s “Long Distance Call” but could be viewed as this generation’s statement of the same, filled with wild, sizzling guitar. 

With a more controlled guitar approach, Ingram embraces the contemporary themes of social unrest and protest in “Another Life Goes By” – “We gotta stop the madness before another life goes by.” In the rocking, note-bending, shrieking “Not Gonna Lie” he embraces the promise to his mentor Buddy Guy to keep the flames of the blues alive. More autobiographical fare is found in “Too Young To Remember,” a standout nodding to history and his first attraction to the blues, as well as in the shuffle “Something in the Dirt” which begins with the line “I was born in Clarksdale” and features some nice piano from Sammon. He reveals heartfelt emotion with one his best vocals on “You’re Already Gone,” likely about his mom’s recent passing.  He gets self-confessional in “My Bad,” a relatable song to most of us that say things impetuously without thinking first.  

>Ingram turns soul singer on “That’s All It Takes,” which he claims is like “Green Onions” but backward using an inverted progression. It’s a refreshing change from mostly otherwise searing blues. “Your Time Is Gonna Come “may owe to Guy’s “My Time After A While” but with Sammon’s piano comping, Ingram goes into a blistering slow blues mode in one of the album’s deepest guitar solos. The rollicking “That’s What You Do” speaks to his embrace of carrying the torch for the blues while the bonus track, the only one written without the Hambridge songwriting team, “Rock & Roll,” is a heart-wrenching ode to his late mom. In commenting about it, Ingram acknowledges that he’s slowly starting to seep into the jazz world too.  His talent seems to have no bounds. That transition will be fascinating to watch.

Ingram has just given himself plenty of self-induced pressure. Based on his brief but dazzling career to date, he can more than handle it. Don’t go messin’ with this kid.


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