Scott H. Biram
Lo-Fi Mojo (Knucklessandwich)
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Sept. 12, 2003
Scott H. BiramLo-Fi Mojo (KnuckleSandwich) Recorded live on KVRX Feb. 2, Scott H. Biram's Lo-Fi Mojo is so anachronistic it's almost cutting-edge. It's easy to imagine Biram hunkered over some bulky microphone in some bottomland basement instead of an award-winning college radio station, even easier due to the singer's fondness for material that predates inventions like, for instance, the radio. To wit, "White House Blues" isn't about the current administration's malfeasance, it's about the McKinley assassination. Filtered through Biram's mouthful-of-dirt vocals, traditionals like "Spoonful" and "Real Cocaine Blues" aren't fusty at all, and he makes Big Joe Williams' "Throw a Boogie Woogie" as confident and cocksure as 50 Cent up in da club. Another traditional, "Titanic" (yes, that Titanic), and the glorious "We Shall Be Free" inject just the right amount of gospel spirit, while songs by Mance Lipscomb, Rose Maddox, Fred McDowell, and Woody Guthrie all crackle and pop with Biram's contagious energy. Exactly how much Biram has absorbed is evident in Lo-Fi Mojo's two originals: the sauntering, carefree "Wreck My Car" and "Truckdriver," a frenzied, chased-by-the-devil shout-out to "all them truck drivers down there at Dorsett's 221 in Buda, Texas." Talk about mojo: Less than two months after recording this album, a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler -- near Buda, no less -- sent Biram to the hospital, multiple surgeries, and an ongoing convalescence. The forces stirred up by such archaic hoodoo can be unpredictable and cruel, but as Biram dodges those hellhounds on his trail, he winds up doing more damage with an acoustic guitar and harmonica than Jack White's entire seven-nation army.