Wisdom often comes with age, so you know it has to be true when Buddy Guy titles his latest release The Blues Don’t Lie. Known as one of the most prolific and revolutionary visionaries in blues rock history, George “Buddy” Guy truly needs no introduction. Having played as a session guitarist for the legendary Muddy Waters during the earlier portion of his career, Buddy Guy blossomed into a household name of influence synonyms with the origins of blues rock. Breaking onto the music scene back in the mid-1950s Buddy Guy is one of the most accomplished musicians within his genre and has impacted so many elite caliber artists, leaving a distinct mark in the culture of the late 20th century. Distinguished in his reputation yet humble in his nature, Buddy Guy continues to create and perform new music at the wonderful age of 86. Of his most modern works comes The Blues Don’t Lie, a beautiful blues gem packed with a ton of guest features by the likes of Elvis Costello, James Taylor, and the legendary Mavis Staples, to name just a few.
The title track of this album “Blues Don’t Lie” is truly the epitome of what this release is. An honest collection of thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are sometimes difficult to handle, making them ideal subjects for the blues. Speaking of his past, of the friends and family that he lost, and of the places he ran to in an effort to escape the pain. At the conclusion of the track, Buddy Guy lists a series of events such as losing a lover or a job, likening them to the blues, signifying that everyone experiences the blues in their lifetime. Just as the pain in these scenarios can be truly felt in the hearts of everyone, so too can the soul of the blues be heard on this track as well as the rest of the album, with plenty of 8-bar progressions and no shortage of Buddy Guy’s signature guitar riffs which are remarkable throughout.
Buddy Guy isn’t the only person offering sincerity on these tracks with the famed Bobby Rush joining him for the hit “What’s Wrong With That” a song highlighting the difference of opinion and the recognition of individual identity. With lyrics ranging from how meals are prepared to what type of women they prefer, “What’s Wrong With That” is a song about social acceptance and unique preferences, an honesty about oneself fit for the blues. The grooving structure of the song shares similar qualities to the rest of the album with a recurring and uncompromising message of openness and candor. The back-and-forth between Rush and Guy is poetic and pertinent, redolent of old time blues.
The finale of the album brings forth the song closest to Buddy Guy’s roots in King Bee, an acoustic ballad widely stripped down from the rest of this release. Just Buddy Guy and his six string offer a call for love in true blues fashion and is reminiscent of his early development playing a Harmony acoustic before switching to electric as a session guitarist. A barebones approach to close out this monumental record is fitting for the authentic themes and heartfelt accounts found throughout the 16 tracks, giving the listeners one final taste of his history. In classic Buddy Guy form, his closing lyrics are mischievous singing, “I’m a king bee, girl I can buzz all night long. You know I can buzz much better baby, when your man is not at home.” flashing that playful charm that the world has been in love with for nearly the last seven decades.
A king of his craft and recognized for it with 8 Grammy Awards, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and a multitude of additional honors too vast to mention, Buddy Guy is a legend continuing his renown career with another top notch release in The Blues Don’t Lie. Intimate and genuine in his content, Buddy Guy shows that the blues can still be felt, now more than ever. Staying true to his roots while offering a more polished sound, The Blues Don’t Lie is a feat made only more remarkable when considering the longevity of his immensely successful career. Although this album would mark his 33rd studio release, Buddy Guy does not seem to be skipping a beat or losing his soulful touch one bit, and if anything, feels like he’s just getting started.
Reviewed by: Dylan Borsos