Review: Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram’s debut album hits hard

Christone "Kingfish" INgram

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a blues prodigy whose album has debuted at No. 1 on several charts.
Alligator Records

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has released his much-anticipated debut album, “Kingfish,” which debuted at No. 1 this week on the Billboard and Root Music Report’s Blues Albums charts, as well as Billboard’s Heatseeker Albums. Kingfish is a 20-year old blues singer and guitar player from Clarksdale, Mississippi, a mere 10 miles from the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson legendarily sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his blues prowess.

Ingram has been tearing up blues festivals for the past several years. A young singer/guitar prodigy not unlike Marcus King or Gary Clark, Jr. a few years earlier, Ingram has been taken under the wing of Buddy Guy, and his maiden recording voyage is through the highly respected Alligator Records label. Guy guests on the album, along with Keb’ Mo’, who plays resonator guitar on eight songs. The album is produced by two-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Joe Louis Walker).

That’s a lot of firepower in your corner for a young dude who can’t even legally drink at the bars he plays. Listening to this album has intrigued me for awhile, because of all of that firepower. You know you’re getting the best producer, studio, engineers and gear. You have the heaviest of blues hitters behind you with Buddy Guy, Keb’ Mo’, and then Alligator Records backing you and the promotion. You have every card in your favor if you’re Kingfish, and the kid can sing and play FOR REAL, that’s no issue. Let’s see if the songs are there. After all is said and done, that’s still gotta happen for this (and any record) to ultimately work.

Throughout the first three songs, I kept getting the feeling that I was listening to extremely well-executed blues on every front, except the songs themselves weren’t grabbing me as extra special. There’s a killer guitar duel on Track 2, “Fresh Out,” between Ingram and Guy. There’s great singing. The grooves are tight. It’s good blues.

Then I heard the fourth song, “Been Here Before.” Now we’re talking. Delta, down home. Acoustic. No drums. Basically, just him and his guitar for almost the entire song. I’m all in with this one. Everything is hitting on all cylinders. At his bare essence, this kid’s truly got it. It’s very simple, but that’s blues at it’s best. All vibe.

“Love Ain’t My Favorite Word” is your traditional slow blues number for the album. You’re gonna get one, you have to. Better make it special. He does. Top-shelf guitar solo.

“Hard Times” is another favorite. Again, keeping it simple here, but I love it. The album closes with “That’s Fine By Me,” a soulful/R&B-style crooner. Great pocket on this one. Good way to close things out.

Overall, I give this record 4 out 5 whiskey shots. Super solid all around. I look forward to catching a show sometime.

— Jon Siembieda

  • Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram|
    Released: May 16, 2019
    Label: Alligator Records
    Tahoe-area show: Tuesday, July 9, at Squaw Valley’s Bluesdays

About Jon Siembieda

Writer Jon Siembieda plays guitar in the Southern California-based touring rock 'n' roll band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He is an avid concertgoer and album collector. His top five favorite bands are The Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, Faces, Mother Hips and Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

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