Mississippi-born singer-songwriter John Blues Boyd has a new album out. It’s titled What My Eyes Have Seen . . . But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
John Blues Boyd
John Blues Boyd is a California-based blues artist. According to his website and other online sources, Boyd, born in 1945, is the cousin of bluesman Eddie Boyd. He started “working in the delta cotton fields” at the age of seven.
His life has since included two constants: hard labor and blues singing. In 2007 he retired from working as a hot tar roofer to take care of his sick wife. In 2014 his wife of 49 years passed away.
He found solace and refuge in blues music. While grieving, he discovered that he had “a previously undeveloped talent for songwriting.” This most recent release is an unofficial follow-up to his 2016 platter The Real Deal.
John Blues Boyd’s signature sound is uncomplicated. It is, however, genuine. it is a versatile blend of traditional and contemporary blues.
What My Eyes Have Seen . . .
On this full-length, 10-tune disc, Boyd sings lead vocals. He is backed by an assortment of other artists including Quantae Johnson (bass), June Core (drums), Kid Andersen (guitar and organ), Jimmy Pugh (piano), Eric Spaulding and Nancy Wright (saxophone), Ric Feliziano (trombone) and John Halbleib (trumpet).
Track by Track
The album opener is titled “In My Blood.” It’s a fun opener written by Guy Hale and Andersen. It does not, however, fully foreshadow all that is to come.
The second song is the title track “What My Eyes Have Seen.” The music flows quite nicely on this song by Hale and Andersen. It features Jack Sanford on saxophone.
“I Heard The Blues” is an original by Boyd. This is a stand-out old school cut about discovering the genre that is classic blues. It includes Lisa Leuschner Andersen (drums), Robby Yamilov (bass), Rome Yamilov (guitar) and Ryan Walker (harmonica).
“Run Out Of Town” is a biographical blues bit co-composed with Hale and Andersen. It works quite well both because the overall sound and performance is consistent and despite the uncomfortable subject Boyd and friends perform as if they’re enjoying themselves.
“A Beautiful Woman (for Dona Mae)” is a tuneful tribute track to his late wife. This is a collaborative effort between Andersen and Boyd. Andersen seems to bring out the feelings expressed in Boyd’s lyrics and the blend is tight.
“Why Did You Take That Shot?” is another song tied into Boyd’s story and more recent American history. Here in a musical moment, Boyd recalls marching alongside one of America’s most famous orators and addresses the issue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
“California” is a tuneful travelogue from Boyd’s life. It is an upbeat song of relocation by Andersen and Boyd.
“That Singing Roofer” recalls the work Boyd did before his retirement and discovery of blues music. It’s another upbeat audio offering that has a decidedly old school feel to it.
“49 Years” follows. This one is a slow and smokey song-story. This, too, is another one by Andersen and Boyd and it focuses on his marriage of 49 years.
The final song is “Got To Leave My Mark.” This track is one final example of what Boyd can do with the work of Hale and Andersen. His diction, delivery and tone remain solid.
This CD also includes a nine-part series of segue-like song bites titled “My Memory Takes Me There.” They feature music by Hale and Andersen and sometimes fit into the mix quite well.
Overall, The fact that some numbers have slightly different titles (depending on the source) gives it even more of that old blues charm. More importantly, this album is largely a musical metaphor for Boyd’s life. It is a compilation of honest, individual experiences reflecting the numerous noteworthy moments of his past.
While it documents several of his bleaker times it also indicates his ability to look back and share his success at persevering even the most painful moments. It is all musically expressed via the most apropos genre for such experiences, the blues. Simply put, there is poetry in pain. So check out John Blues Boyd’s What My Eyes Have Seen . . .and enjoy “That Singing Roofer.”