For quite some time, Bobby Thompson has been a fixture in the DC music scene, camping out on the Virginia side the Potomac. He's played reggae and funk, but his heart lies with blues guitar. Thompson explains his deep connection as he relays a story of going to play Antone's in Austin with the reggae band See-I:
As soon as I walked in and I saw the poster of Stevie Ray Vaughan, I felt a very strong emotion. None of the other guys had listened to the same music as I had. I was obsessed with Stevie Ray and I was just in awe being in that room.
Thompson has decided to follow this SRV itch by releasing By The Hand, an album true to his blues rock roots.
While Blind Faith is a stated influence, Clapton's later work, particularly the classic sound of Derek and the Dominos where the British guitar god led (and was pushed) by a band of southerners, might be most representative of the sounds on By The Hand. Thompson is a soulful singer and strong guitarist. He can also pay homage to both Clapton's lead work and Duane Allman's slide sounds with equal measure.
By The Hand kicks things off with the soul blues of "Live With None" before moving into the gospel-ized sounds of "Every New Day." Both acoustic and electric slide bring "Let Your Mojo Shine" to another level. "Soul Love" and "Be Your Love" demonstrate Thompson's softer side while "Blue Diamonds" and "Wild In My Dreams" rock with abandon.
Thompson also shows a fine ear for covers as he does proper justice to The Stax Sound with Albert King's “I’ve Made Nights By Myself" and Eddie Floyd's "Things Get Better." Floyd's song also was a key song in the repertoire of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends during Clapton's time with that ensemble, and this is likely not a coincidence.
The Bramletts guided Clapton's career from guitar god to songwriter, singer, interpreter, and 70s rock icon. Thompson channels every bit of that decade. If not for some slight timbre differences in the vocal, much of By The Hand could pass for Clapton outtakes from this period, and this is a high compliment.
With By The Hand Bobby Thompson has drawn a line between his past and his future through these songs of hope and redemption. It is hard not to listen to this record and recognize an artist beginning to hit his creative stride.
- Jim Markel
Six Degrees of Swampland: Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
(Swampland's deep archive of reviews, features, and interviews with every aspect of this classic duo)
The 100 Defining Moments in Southern Rock: Part Three
(#51 - “Layla” Merges Duane Allman and Eric Clapton)
The Stax Sound
(Swampland's deep archive of Stax- related reviews, features, and interviews)