1. Bad Man’s Blood
2. Sugar and Riley
3. River John
4. Good Times
6. Night Walker
7. Darlin’ (Put Your Suitcase Down)
8. Blonde of Mine
9. Cross and Flowers
10. Ray’s Jump
11. Funny ‘Bout Love
most masterful players and songwriters, Ray is a veteran musician just now getting his due. With the release of this tour de force, Ray confirms that “His time has definitely come” (Real Blues Magazine).
From the haunting opening bars of the title track to the playful closing song, Ray takes us on a journey through life’s darkest and sunniest moments, delving deep into the lives of this world’s drifters, losers, lovers and criminals. Following in the tradition of the great American writers of the south and his favorite authors Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor, Ray draws inspiration from the places he has been, creating short stories that evoke true-to-life characters stumbling their way through a rough and tumble world of violence, hope and despair.
“They’re songs about life,” Ray says. “People love each other, leave each other, come back together again, get hopelessly lost…hell, on some days they take each other’s lives.”
Not putting a pretty veneer on it, Ray recorded these songs straight and unfiltered. He recorded all the basic tracks by himself, playing guitar, harmonica, foot percussion and singing, surrounded by six or seven microphones and four guitar amps. Mixing high quality with “dirty” mics, he and co-producer Justin Douglas captured Ray’s raw energy and intoxicating groove, recording nine new songs and new versions of two older ones.
“Some songs just will not leave you alone after they are recorded,” Ray says. “The guitar groove and words keep evolving over time. Two such songs, previously only released in Canada, kept on whispering to me.” So going back to his first album, Ray re-recorded the sweet up-tempo tune “Good Times” as well as his 1997 song “Blonde of Mine,” which has French and English lyrics intertwining. “I love to mix the two languages together,” he says. “It brings me back home.”
Ray grew up in French Canada but moved to the United States when he was young, speaking both languages and moving all over, from Alaska to Louisiana. The New Orleans influence runs deep in Ray’s playing, and his swampy blues style can be heard in his cover of “Mississippi,” which was written by the late Chicago musician Mike Jordan (Wet Dog Band, Famous Potatoes, Mike Jordan & the Rockamatics). Released as a digital single in June, it is a timely song about the flooding of the Mississippi River and fits in perfectly with Ray’s new originals, showing his remarkable ability to bridge blues, folk and Americana to create his own unique sound. The dark, edgy guitar on “Mississippi” carries a punch after the melancholy banjo sounds (played by Gurf Morlix) on “River John” and the funky horns on “Sugar and Riley.”
A perfect example of Ray’s “beautiful stripped-down sound” (Montreal Gazette), Bad Man’s Blood is an impressive follow- up to his latest Red House release Goin’ By Feel, which was named one of the best CD’s of 2008 by DownBeat Magazine. It solidifies his place as an innovative songwriter who plays to his own funky beat.