August 17, 2009

Mississippi Man
The Snake Oil Salesman

Los Angeles, CA
Produced by Mississippi Man | Engineered and recorded by Raymond
Richards at Red Rockets Glare Studios in Rancho Park, CA | Mastered by Dan Long

First, listening to Mississippi Man’s debut EP, The Snake Oil Salesman, will clear up any doubts of how five West Coast kids from L.A. came to be called Mississippi Man. The album is infused with the feel of old time Southern blues, both in melody and tone, as the band reaches deep into the storied South to pull inspiration.

The album starts with a ghostly carnival melody above the atmospheric hiss of an old record. The nostalgia quickly ends as the band enters and the ghostly melody transforms into a quick toe-tapping swing, accented by the shrill but melodic voice that drips into the music with grace.

“Bonjour Le Monde,” the second track, is reminiscent of bands like the Cold War Kids, whereas “The Jester” sounds like a lost Beatles track. Yet, despite the familiarity, Mississippi Man creates a unique and enjoyable sound that carries through the entire EP. The strongest track on the album, “Ricochet,” plays like The Band’s “Long Black Veil.” It is a slow story-driven song that could easily cause spontaneous barroom singalongs.

The last track on the EP is a wonderfully executed and beautifully written heartfelt song about war called “The Fight.” It’s a simple song that showcases all of the band's talents. The music is sparse at first, but slowly all of the elements are added. The unique voice for this song restrains itself to be a quiet storyteller, then the simple but steady percussion, piano and bass all disappear as the band uses broken glass, clapping, and their voices to transition. After the song ups the tempo, a graceful and quotable solo brings the album to an end.

The Snake Oil Salesman may relish in stories from the past, but there is nothing stale about the album. Here, Mississippi Man deliver a fresh and original album that deserves multiple listens. (self-released)
-Dan Evon

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