Review: “One Kind Favor,” B.B. King

Hands down the best blues album of the year, and one of the year’s best in any genre, One Kind Favor is a triumphant return to form for one of American music’s classic artists.  At age 82, B.B. King returns to his blues roots and offers 12 covers of songs that influenced him in his early years.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett (John Mellencamp, Robert Plant/Alison Krauss), the album is certainly a highlight for the venerable King.  They tried to make it sound like an album recorded in the 1950s and the band – including Jim Keltner on drums, Dr. John on piano and Nathan East on standup bass – provides solid backup while not stealing the spotlight from B.B. and, of course, Lucille.  It’s tough to pick out highlights on an album this strong, but “Blues Before Sunrise” (from John Lee Hooker) has a nice groove and “How Many More Years” (Howlin’ Wolf) is a rousing stomper, while “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” (Blind Lemon Jefferson) bobs along with a jaunty second-line beat.   King’s not afraid to slow it down with “Get These Blues Off Me” or “My Love Is Down.”  Like Buddy Guy’s current Skin Deep, B.B. King has produced an unexpectedly strong album in his twilight years.  One Kind Favor is an essential addition to any serious collection of American music.  Highly recommended.

MP3: “Blues Before Sunrise”

MP3: “Get These Blues Off Me”

B. B. King official website

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