Bryan Lee knows about hanging out in bars. The Wisconsin-born guitarist has been a regular on the New Orleans club circuit for three decades‚ serving up no-frills blues that has the late Albert King at its core. Given Lee's background and sound‚ blues-guitar icon Duke Robillard could be the only choice to produce My Lady Don't Love My Lady.
Lee sets it off with "Imitation of Love‚" a Doc Pomus/Mac Rebenack collaboration that leaves subtlety at the curb. Robillard arranges tenorman Gordon "Sax Gordon" Beadle and bari-sax player Doug James into a wall of reeds‚ giving Lee and keyboardist David Maxwell a full canvas to paint on. Maxwell is Lee's musical alter-ego‚ and his piano work has the same tangy goodness that Rebenack (aka Dr. John) made famous. Lee's vocal is dead solid perfect… or dead solid imperfect‚ to be precise: It's raw‚ unfiltered‚ and burns like good southern whiskey.
Lee covers artists ranging from Big Bill Broonzy ("When I Been Drinking") to Ahmet Ertegun ("Heartbreaker")‚ but his own turns-of-phrase make My Lady a personal statement. The title track may sound like Tiger Woods' new theme song‚ but it's really about the battle between a good woman‚ a good guitar‚ and Lee's loyalty to both. (The disc is dedicated to the aforementioned "good woman‚" Lee's wife Bethany Jane.) "Too Many Wolves" could have been sub-titled "Wall Street Bailout Blues." "They givin' out all kindsa money in Washington DC" Lee opines. "But I'm at the bottom of the food chain/They ain't got nuthin' for me!"
Special guest villains Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepard add dynamite to their own tunes -- Guy on the sexy-good "Early in the Morning‚" Shepherd on the devastating "Let Me Up‚ I've Had Enough" -- while Robillard pulls a Hitchcock moment‚ strapping it on for "Drinking." Lee's got meaty chops of his own‚ though‚ as he demonstrates on "Heartbreaker" and Earl King's "Three Can Play That Game." My Lady Don't Love My Lady is as uncomplicated as a shot & a beer‚ and just as welcome. At the end of a decade plagued by nastiness‚ it's good to hear a disc that gives that nastiness right back‚ and with interest.