Review Summary: A relaxing set done by the partnership of one old finger-pickin' guitar and its raspy old master, Avalon Blues is the album for homey folk/blues relaxation.
Nothing much can be said about Mississippi John Hurt. Hurt is an unheard of player in blues and folk music -- unfortunate, for within the few albums he recorded, masterful and influential songs were covered and produced by this lovely, humble, raspy singer/songwriter.
His songs are covered by artists from Dylan to Beck, yet his name isn't nearly as recognizable. Hell, if it weren't for Pandora, I would have no clue who Hurt was and I don't think I ever would.
My first introduction to Hurt was "My Creole Belle", a fine, melodious tune where the finger-picking guitar style matches and plays off his soothing vocals like smooth, southern-churned butter. The rest of the album can more or less be described in this same manner (besides "God's Unchanging Hand", a heavy blues-style vocals-and-harmonica-only performance). There is a monotony to the album; there are no drastic changes in style. Yet it plays well. Each song's melodies are refreshing and playback well off each other much like the chronology of Kubrick's filmography. This album is as much joyous as it is sorrowful. It's as much fun as it is reflective, observational, and romantic.
Every aspect is well meaning - no careless lyrics, picking, nor vocalization; all Hurt tells us is with fine precision. Old time music influenced Hurt since his early youth and with every motion and note his voice and guitar embody the style and history of early folk and blues. If Dylan were a marking for contemporary and political folk representing all the change in America during the 1960's, Hurt is traditional folk/country/blues's sweet goodbye - the marking of the end of the old. The torch is passed.
Hurt is the perfect artist to start with for those looking to get into traditional music but aren't ready to dive head-first into it. He's as much traditional as he is stylistically to singer/songwriter Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" (albeit, much more bluesy).
A short, simple, beautiful album, Avalon Blues drags none and bears no fault - yet, it can't be said to be mind-blowing or revolutionary. Mississippi John Hurt is an artist to play on those simple sunny days where everything is alright and beautiful. He's an old friend of yours who knows how to lighten the mood and reminds you, hell, who doesn't get the blues sometimes? Girl troubles, loved ones go, that's life, man. Has been happeninin' forever. So has the good. Lay back on your wicker rocking chair and take in the southern breeze - sit for a little, and listen to the deep roots of old time America.