For many, the blues is the music of suffering and lament, heartless women and midnight handshakes with Beelzebub. Judging by the syrupy notes that drip from Mike Bader's guitar and the positivity in his gravel moan, the Montana bluesman's tunes have more to do with the power of music and backyard barbecues. His new album, Worldwide Blues, arrives just in time for summer, providing a spirited batch of blue-sky delta jams for people who turn to this genre for release, not remorse.
The Mike Bader Bearjam puts his throaty singing and guitar leads front and center, reinforced with fat-bottom bass lines, swinging drums and some tasty keys work, courtesy Josh Farmer, that really rounds out many of the songs. The acoustic-driven "Midnite Trane" features slick slide guitar melodies, "Peace Will Come Again" is an organ-heavy throwback to old-school R&B and the modal funk of "A Stranger to Love" is begging for a horn section. Sometimes the lyrics are less than inspiring; the cheese factor on "Bull Trout Blues," for instance, threatens to bring the whole groove down. But the blues has almost always been more about emotion than prose, and there's plenty of the former on this upbeat release.