By Aaron Porter
There is very little you can do to keep from comparing Shawn Holts and the Teardrops new release Daddy Told Me to the extensive library of his father, Magic Slim. I tried. I tried really, really hard. But ultimately, when you play with your fathers band and you name your release Daddy Told Me, you not only find it difficult to avoid comparison, you invite it.
The problem is, there is no comparison in style. There is however comparison in quality. Shawn Holt puts forth an effort and energy that is reminiscent of his father’s younger years. Unfortunately, whether it was because he was directed to or it was the perfectionist in him, there is a contrived quality to the disc. From the start it is clear that it is a studio session. While that may interest some fans of the blues, most fans I know (including myself) look to have the feel and energy of live shows as a take home. Blues fans want something that conjures memories of our favorite artists standing on stage while we share a beer with our new and old friends. Holt tries his best to hone his “blues voice,” a wholly unnecessary addition to his otherwise acceptable vocals. In the end it causes his vocals to feel forced, as if he couldn’t find a cut he was happy with.
Whether it is because they were directed in the same way Holt was or they were just uninterested, the Teardrops chorus vocals were tired. I’m not saying they were played out; they just didn’t seem to share Holt’s energy, real or imitated.
One thing I definitely feel I should say is that Shawn Holt is trying to fill some of the biggest shoes in the blues community, literally and figuratively, and this is his first release with the newest iteration of the Teardrops. It’s going to take some time to find their new sound and the rhythm in which they work. Daddy Told Me isn’t a bad CD. It’s not the best we’ve heard, but there is potential there, and personally I look forward to seeing future albums from Holt and the Teardrops.