Grady Champion Dreamin' as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothThis likeable blues singer returns with a studio project that's almost too optimistic to be blues, but gets there just the same.

Grady Champion
GSM Music Group
10 tracks / 43:53

Grady Champion serves up a variety of blues stylings on the follow-up to last year's Back in Mississippi Live, where he proved to be an amiable host to a live blues-feast. Dreamin' is a studio effort, which polishes up the sound considerably – not always a plus when you're talking blues, but an opportunity to stretch the genre a bit. Life is like a box of chocolates, someone said - and musically speaking, Dreamin' is an assortment box: fast blues, slow blues, a shuffle or two, a soul-blues ballad, an instrumental, some boogie... it's all in there for you to sample.

Champion is primarily a blues singer (although he blows a mean blues harp when called for), which limits his control of the vibe to some extent, having to rely on his musicians to heat up the tracks. The formula works to some extent, producing a sort-of clean, commercial blues project that could serve as an entry-level enticement to the inexperienced listener.

Grady's natural optimism and enthusiasm almost makes his blues persona a hard-sell, but it works - at least academically. The format certainly is blues and there are enough good solos on guitar and harp to legitimize the genre category. There's something about Champion that comes across as very likeable – certainly, the liner notes paint the picture of a grateful, optimistic performer who gives thanks 'first and foremost to our Lord God,' who he also acknowledges musically on "Thank You For Giving me the Blues."

Of course, this is a blues recording, so you've also got "My Rooster is King," and even though Freud might tell us that sometimes a rooster is just a rooster, well..... this is a blues recording. The sins of the flesh are never very far away.

-Bert Saraco

3 tock rating in The Phantom Tollbooth3 TOCKS