John Lisi & Delta Funk - Dead Cat Bounce - CD

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Singer and guitar-slinger John Lisi calls Dead Cat Bounce an "old-school throw down record" in the spirit of the Sun, Excello, Stax and Chess labels.

Whatever you call it, these 12 songs, recorded in Water Valley, Miss., are like the menu items at a favorite chicken stand: Greasy and good.

The opening title track, a percolating, sinister-sounding bit of blues, only hints at the good stuff to come. By the time Lisi and the band hit "Slow Down Sugar!," three songs into the album, the potion of funk and blues is really bubbling.

Lisi, who spent a bit of time in New Orleans and other Southern locales, handles singing as well as guitars, Dobro, lap steel and mandolin. He's augmented by a minimal, but highly effective combo consisting of Jimbo Mathus on bass, piano and backing vocals, and drummer Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars.

Most all the songs were first or second takes, and the immediacy of the jams is the album's most compelling asset. The formula here is pretty much the same, but Lisi and friends do a good job of mixing tempos to keep things cooking.

The high-energy electric punch of "Slow Down Sugar!" and "Beer Soaked Couch Slug" segues nicely into the mid-tempo acoustic strumming on "Cheap Motel." That tale about a quickie hook-up ("No issues, no drama, no baggage baby, suits me fine") flavors its basic chord changes with a tasty guitar riff and a touch of muscle in the bridge.

On "Po' Jon," Lisi and the band go more primitive with resonator guitar, tambourine and a thumping bass drum behind the rowdy country ballad. It's one of Lisi's originals, but it sounds like an old folk tune.

That timeless feel characterizes everything on Dead Cat Bounce, which shows that some blues musicians still write songs like the old masters did.

1. Dead Cat Bounce
2. Woke Up Pissed (Sleep Away My Blues)
3. Slow Down Sugar
4. Beer Soaked Couch Slug
5. Cheap Motel
6. Po' Jon
7. Flip Flops
8. Flip Flops (Slight Return)
9. C'mon Down
10. Bad Luck Roy
11. Git' Er' Gon'
12. Blah Blah Blah