Veteran Christian rocker Glenn Kaiser (the Rez Band) once said that King David was the greatest bluesman in history, noting that 57 of the 150 Psalms are ones of lament. By that standard, guitarist and singer-songwriter Dave Perkins is well behind the master of the blues harp (yes, the one with strings). Pistol City Holiness (Lugnut Records) is only Perkins's second solo album, and his first in 22 years. But if quality has anything to do with it, he's near the top of the blues pantheon, and gaining ground.

Perkins is probably best known among Christian music fans as the guitarist in the short-lived but great Chagall Guevara, Steve Taylor's early '90s foray into Clash-influenced punk rock. But to most, Perkins is known as an in-demand session musician who has played with everyone from Willie Nelson to Ray Charles to Carole King. His passion has always been the blues, and Pistol City Holiness incorporates influences as diverse as Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Make no mistake: This is no polite "blues-influenced" music, but the raw, primal Chicago deal, full of distortion, wailing harmonica, and stomping riffs. Its home is the Saturday night juke joint, not the Sunday morning sanctuary. That said, Perkins is obsessed with the tension between the harsh realities of life (a never-ending theme in the blues) and the promise of salvation, and his lyrics play out like a Flannery O'Connor short story. They are macabre, endearingly funny, and suffused with the hope of glory.

"Long Eleven Road," a brooding meditation on dislocation and unemployment, could not be more relevant in these troubled times. The raucous "Bottles and Knives" and the anguished cry of "Flown" deal with the perils of love, while "Devil's Game" heads deep into the Delta for musical and lyrical inspiration. In short, it's a tour de force that the original blues master would love. Selah.

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Pistol City Holiness
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
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Release Date
June 2, 2009
CD Baby
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