MULEBONE Bluesville Sessions (RED TUG)

THOUGH IT CLOCKS in at barely three minutes, Mulebone’s “In My Time Of Dying” contains so much desirous urgency for deliverance, it leaves the listener fatigued in a trance-like Delta haze. Slide guitar sounding like it’s conjuring the ghost of Skip James, with flute accompaniment as spiraling as Ian Anderson’s mad-sorcerer best, such is the performance and scope of Mulebone’s Hugh Pool and John Ragusa on Bluesville Sessions. This album is pure, muggy Mississippi afternoon passion, with inventive instrumental know-how and boundere Less blues expression.

Another venerable cover, Robert Johnson’s “Come In My Kitchen,” is given an expansive, slow-crawling treatment, Ragusa’s fife crying like a world-scorned Delta songbird, Pool’s craggy vocal the essence of cotton-field soul. The Pool-penned “Money and Keys” quakes with a John Lee Hooker-like foot stomp and a sinister air—“bone, blood, and shadows, the world passes by.”

Mulebone seemingly multiplies every ounce of studio ambience on “New Morning,” the reverberating pop ‘n’ lurch of each low string on Pool’s guitar hums with steel presence, while Ragusa induces chills playing a conch shell. “Spider’s Web” is a no-holds-barred, lunatic picking exercise and chirping flute frenzy, Mulebone’s gifted roots practitioners showing off their woodshedding-ripped wares.

Homespun artistry combined with hard-nosed Delta blues, Mulebone’s authenticity bleeds through. MARK URICHECK