When a split recording is released in the world of one-man bands, it is usually something more than a little worthwhile. In the case of the new split between Scottish bluesman Sleepy Eyes Nelson and American singer/songwriter Slate Dump, "Covered in Blues, Vol. II," that is doubly so. Both artists are well known and highly regarded in the scene. Each of them has his own sound - Sleepy Eyes Nelson with his old-timey acoustic sound that is clearly built upon a foundation of traditional country blues, and Slate Dump with his mixture of folk punk and acoustic neo-blues (and the term he has coined to describe his sound, "cavebilly swing").
"Covered in Blues, Vol. II" features Slate Dump playing a version of a Sleepy Eyes Nelson song, Blues Grow on Trees, as well as Sleepy Eyes Nelson playing a version of a Slate Dump song, The Tragic Tale of Kazimir Kiskis. In addition to those songs, each of them plays a selection of covers from artists such as Willie Dixon, Furry Lewis, Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Boy Fuller, and Bo Carter. It is a rather interesting contrast between the styles of the two artists - Sleepy Eyes Nelson carries on with his intricate fingerpicking, which is simultaneously both fluid and percussive, while Slate Dump continues with his busy strumming style and clever lyrics.
Sleepy Eyes Nelson and Slate Dump are each a credit in his own way to the one-man band scene in specific and to music in general...and the two "Covered in Blues" splits that have been released so far on Cheap Wine Records give the listener a small example of why this is so. Ten songs worth, in all.
If you enjoy "Covered in Blues, Vol. II," you may also want to check out "Covered in Blues, Vol. I," Slate Dump's 2009 Best Of LP titled "Fables of the Reclamation," or one or more of Sleepy Eyes Nelson's small handful of albums, like "A Bottle of Wine at the Bellgrove Hotel" or "Where the Town Ends." Both artists also receive favorable mention in the new book by singer/songwriter and author Dave Harris, "Head, Hands, & Feet: A Book of One Man Bands." A very worthwhile, well-written and comprehensive guide to singer/songwriters in the world of one-man bands.
Get your copy of "Covered in Blues, Vol. II" while you can, as these sorts of releases tend to go out of print pretty quickly. You can get one from Cheap Wine Records in just about any listening format you can imagine, as I understand it. Enjoy.
Review by James Carlson, examiner.com