A review of "Kickapoo County Line" by John Mitchell

Self Release 2005

5 tracks, 20:36 minutes.

Robin is a singer/songwriter from Illinois.  The title of this EP refers to her local area, a small rural community, but the music here is not at all rural in feel.  Robin’s band offers us a mix of rock and Americana, with some strong vocals and some excellent guitar playing.

Our esteemed editor Bob Kieser is an old friend of Robin’s and probably thought that a review of her material might smack of nepotism.  However, I have no such links, having met Robin quite by chance while on the January LRBC!  This CD is worth investigating and Robin sounds like the sort of performer that, while not being strictly blues, might appeal to our audience who appreciate well played and written songs.

Robin plays guitar and sings, accompanied by husband Tony on bass, Mark Moretto on drums and Dan Light on lead guitar. Opening track “Counting Me Down” adds keyboards from Eric Nelson to the regular band, providing additional depth to the sound.  However, throughout the sound is good, instrumentation clear and this is a well recorded CD.  The final song “Katrina” counts as a ‘bonus track’.

“Counting Me Down” starts brightly with slide guitar and rocking piano on a tale of love lost.  Robin sings well, with a touch of roughness at the back of her vocal, an excellent attribute on uptempo material like this one.  Next up is “Remember”, a mid-paced number with a bit more of a blues feel and more strong guitar lines.  Lyrically we are in a state of loss, as Robin asks us to remember those that are left behind. “Everything I Need (You)” is a slower love song.  Robin’s vocal is clear and expressive as she declares that the object of her song is all she needs for happiness.

“Kickapoo County Line” is the longest track on the disc and starts with evocative noises of rattlesnakes and bayou swamps and eerie slide guitar before the song develops into a dark tale of attempted escape.  Slide and wah wah guitars duel for supremacy in the middle section to give an almost threatening tone to the track. “Katrina” is obviously about the terrible damage caused by the hurricane and is a ballad describing the scenes wrought by nature’s wrath. 

Overall I enjoyed this short introduction to Robin’s work and would recommend those who are in the Illinois area to check her out live.  This CD is available from her website, along with a live full length album.

John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK.  He has just returned from the January 2011 Blues Cruise.


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