Red Dress, and The Pleaser (Small & Nimble)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Aug. 21, 2015
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of his debut album, eclectic roots rocker Guy Forsyth dives back into the blues pool he emerged from with a pair of recent discs. Comprised of recordings taken from the same show as his introductory handshake High Temperature, the live Red Dress flicks the blues switch hard. Sticking mostly to 12 bars and shuffles, Forsyth and the original lineup of the Blues Band lay the leader's already prodigious singing and harping chops on a program of traditionalist originals and covers. From four Little Walter songs to a 12-minute take on "Play to Lose," Red Dress comes on thick and hot. "Lose" also appears, at half the length and twice the intensity, on The Pleaser, Forsyth's latest studio LP. With a couple of decades of genre-busting Americana behind him, Austin's harmonicat hops gracefully from the choogling social comment "Poverty Line" and shuffling satirical smirk "Put a Little Sex in It" to the menacing pound "Carried by Six (Pop's Blues)" and the desperate garage roar "Nobody Gonna Bail Me Out." The band itself gets to blow on "Miniskirt," written by longstanding guitarist George Rarey, and the Walter-tweaking title tune. With little wear or tear after 20 years of professional blues slinging, Guy Forsyth proudly flaunts the power of retained youth on The Pleaser with all the grace of well-earned maturity.