The five Bobby Rush originals that sit alongside songs by Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters on Rawer than Raw are virtually indistinguishable from tracks that came 60 years prior.
This is a high compliment to the 86-year-old bluesman who provides all the sounds – voice, acoustic guitar, harmonica and stomping foot – on this authentic trip down the Delta. For when Rush sings, Show you how a little dog can bury a bone, listeners might wonder whether that’s mid-20th-century or early-21st-century euphemism.
For the record, “Let Me in Your House” is one of Rush’s contemporary compositions.
Having beaten a case of COVID-19 earlier in the year, Rush is rejuvenated, making the harp sound like a train whistle on “Smokestack Lightning,” living in a world where mama, little girl and woman are the same person in the same song and where the 12-bar blues come in fast, medium and slow.
At 45 minutes, Rawer than Raw could use a little more diversity or a little less music. But blues fans seeking the real deal needn’t look nowhere else.