The Reverend Shawn Amos honors traditional blues

The Reverend Shawn Amos and Doctor Roberts’ “The Cause Of It All” is released May 21.

The Reverend Shawn Amos & the Brotherhood’s breakout 2020 album, “Blue Sky,” was so seminal and unique, it’s difficult to categorize it as blues.

But in 2013 when the bandleader decided to plunge full force into music, Amos had no compunction about calling himself a bluesman. Having the lineage of an acclaimed, successful businessman, his decision could be considered dubious. There are easier ways to go.

Accompanying Amos the entire way is Chris “Doctor” Roberts, and today the duo releases their fourth album, “The Cause Of It All.” It is straight-up, stripped-down blues, 10 covers of blues standards and little-known gems.

Blues is a feeling, and “The Cause Of It All,” clutches the listener from the opening notes of Amos’ haunting harmonica and the good Doctor’s grooving, distorted guitar. Everybody’s heard Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” a thousand times. But this spooky take is unlike any other. As with the previous record, Amos has created singular sound.

“Spoonful” segues without changing a beat to “Goin’ To The Church,” a relatively contemporary tune by Lester Butler of the Red Devils.

Roberts and Amos take their time to savor each note, and the music reaches into my soul, grabbing it and pulling me to my dancing feet by the sixth song, “I’m Ready.” The Muddy Waters homage continues with “Hoochie Coochie Man” and concludes with “Little Anna Mae,” a 1948 acoustic Mud-Sunnyland Slim collaboration. These guys do their homework.

The album cover image is Amos bundled in a jacket, donning his trademark fedora, sitting alone on gloaming front-porch steps. “The Cause Of It All” likely is inspired by an isolated year off the bandstand due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Bluesmen in limbo.

-Tim Parsons

  • The Reverend Shaw Amos
  • ‘The Cause Of It All’
  • Label: Put Together Music
  • Release: May 21, 2021

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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