Runnin' with the Wolf (Provogue)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
Given that Omar Dykes can approximate the primal wail of the great Howlin' Wolf, it's past time Austin's favorite Mississippi transplant took on Chester Burnett's catalog. Runnin' With the Wolf boasts blues classics like "Spoonful," "Smokestack Lightning," and the immortal "The Red Rooster," all of which get faithful makeovers here. Dykes leavens the obvious choices with deeper cuts, rescuing "I'm Leavin' You," "Worried All the Time," and "Riding in the Moonlight" from unjust obscurity, plus he smartly avoids the soundly beaten dead horses "Evil" and "I Ain't Superstitious." The LP conjures On the Jimmy Reed Highway, Dykes' 2007 tribute, complete with self-penned title track homage. Where the Reed LP roped in enough guest stars to give clearance lawyers fits, Runnin' With the Wolf keeps the spotlight firmly on Dykes and his rhythm section. All the better to keep the songs at center stage, where Dykes' stinging guitar licks and burly growl remain most effective.