The Bills, Til The Blues Have Gone (2020) Wheeling Records

The Bills are Bill Booth and Bill Troiani. A live duo for nine years this is their first studio album together. Theirs is a loping, rhythmic easy blues, more related to Delta Folk Blues than the harder edged electric Chicago Blues. Both are American musicians, hailing originally from rural Maine and New York City, but now both live in Norway, distilling a life time of music into their playing and a lifetime of playing into their music. This is the sound of warm sunlit porches and informal singalongs, Bill Booth’s flourishes of fiddle adding a Hot Club Of Paris vibe.
“Keeping The Blues Alive” is a delight, two smooth vocals carry the melody while the guitar and Alexander Petterson’s shuffle drums create a rattling train beat. “Asking For More” again is all about the warm voices with the Bills sounding like a pair of JJ Cales. Booth’s guitar and fiddle breaks are understated and tasteful rather than being furrowed brows sweaty work outs. “Driving Rain” has some of that early ZZ Top snarl in the vocals with some typically tight harmonies. So comfortably do The Bills fit together, blending voices and instruments that songs like the delightful “Road Is Long” and “Til The Blues Have Gone” sound like covers of old Little Feat numbers pared back from the trio. With a touch of Dylan and The Band in “Til The Blues” as you find yourself singing “I Shall Be Released”. “Grinnin In Your Face” is a fine cover of Son House, the strong beat is there but The Bills add a languid sloshed atmosphere and make it their own. “Didn’t Know What I Had”, is the most down home blues track, Bill Booth’s guitar chimes and jangles like John Lee Hooker and the vocal is measured and charged.
This is an atmospheric album of well worn blues, played with feeling and the familiarity that comes with experience. Nobody showboats or feels the need to put their foot on a monitor and rock out. The whole album smells of understated class, restraint and the warmth of valves, antique instruments and above all integrity. This is a groove heavy grower that gets in your ears and stays there.

Marc Higgins 01/02/21


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