Loren Connors | The Curse of Midnight Mary

Family Vineyard (2009)
By DEVIN KING  |  February 24, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Recorded in 1981, The Curse of Midnight Mary illustrates one genesis story for Loren Connors's affected and distended interpretation of solo blues guitar. Like Robert Johnson (who, it's said, "went down to the crossroads" to sell his soul to the Devil for the ability to play the haunting blues we know him for), Connors recorded overnight in Midnight Mary's cursed graveyard, where local New Haven legend had it that anyone visiting after midnight would be dead the next day.

Filled with the ghostly hisses and pops of a portable tape recorder, the album unfolds without distinct separation between tracks, creating a slow-moving sèance where Connors asks questions of the dead genre he's attempting to revive. His idiosyncratic guitar technique — overemphasized vibrato and string bending — and his wavering humming (similar to Glenn Gould as much as to the wails of early bluesmen) are gracefully grounded by his unabashed reliance on the melodies and forms of the Delta blues.

Part of the beauty of this record is that it seems to be a private moment for Connors — which makes me question whether it should have been released at all. Still, I'm glad to hear it.
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