(Three and half)
Ever the showman but never the best album artist, blues-guitar innovator Buddy Guy has nevertheless recorded more consistently since 1991’s Damn Right, I Got the Blues. That’s not to say he hasn’t turned out a few turkeys (remember 1993’s Feels Like Rain?), but this isn’t one. From the dirty wah-wah riffs and stinging leads of ”˜Best Damn Fool’ to the raw country blues of ”˜Out in the Woods,’ Guy, at 72, shows no signs of fatigue. With a slew of guests ”“ Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Eric Clapton ”“ Guy is better when he’s ripping out the kind of grungy, distorted licks that inspired Hendrix to redefine the electric guitar than when he attempts a message song like the why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along title track. In that one, his apology for clueless racists ”“ “I knew he had a good heart, but he just didn’t understand/That I needed to be treated just like another man” ”“ might ring a bit empty to fellow African-Americans who survived the civil rights era. But Guy is a blues man, not a protest singer, and when he wields his axe with perfect restraint over the organ and loping bass line of ”˜I Found Happiness,’ you best believe that’s what he’s done.