Any new Doug MacLeod release is a cause for celebration. That we have him recorded by the benchmark for audiophiles, Reference Recordings, is a double celebration.
This audiophile has very high expectations from both artist and engineer. They were matched easily. Engineer Keith Johnson has the aural skill and technical know how to capture the spirit of any artist in any acoustic. Within the confines of Skywalker Sound in California, producer Jan Mancuso and her star engineer recorded MacLeod and his drummer and bassist live with no overdubs. Yes, mistakes and all. It’s magical and the antithesis of 99% of today’s studio recordings.
All the songs are from MacLeod’s pen. They feature his unique style and hit right to the heart and soul. The songs are born of an abusive childhood and a vivid life lived. MacLeod adds performing/instrument details to all songs in the notes. Blues connoisseurs, take note. But, even if you are new to the Blues, you will enjoy and learn so much from this master. His subtle guitar work, the way he perfects the collaborative trio, the aforementioned soul. He’s lived the words of these songs and it shows.
The two musical partners are wonderful — Jimi Bott on drums and Denny Cray on bass. Like all great artists, MacLeod surrounds himself with excellence. He always employs top Blues sidemen, and here as others before, they help his music soar.
I discovered MacLeod’s music some fifteen years ago as an audiophile, not music lover. He made two recordings for Audioquest that were standards at shows and audio gatherings (Come to Find and You Can’t Take My Blues). I have them both on LP, CD and remastered CD. They are still benchmark recordings for audiophiles, no matter the format.
True, at 67, his voice is not as strong as it once was, but in Blues, a little fragility can be a good thing. MacLeod has 300 songs to his credit. I have not heard a bad one yet. So, hopefully, lots more to come from this A team of Blues and recording.
Reference Recordings R-130HDCD
NOTE: Reference will also release this new album on a 200-gram vinyl two-LP set, half-speed mastered and pressed at Quality Record Pressings (RM-2507), and on HRx 176.4kHz/24 bit DVD Data Disc format (HR-130).