Review by Rustyn Clark
Soaked in a bowl of gin and wrung out to dry in the smoky air of some southside Chicago basement bar, The Cash Box Kings’ latest release reminds us that the blues always have a place in our playlists. Royal Mint includes 13 tracks, of which six are originals and the rest are excellent renditions of songs from the great blues artists like Muddy Waters and Junior Wells.
The album starts off setting your expectations of a blues band a bit happier than you’d expect with “House Party.” That’s probably about as care-free fun as the album gets, as deeper tracks dive into the meat of politics, relationships, and the life of a musician always on the road. That’s not to say you won’t find yourself laughing at the sharp-but-blatant cynicism of The Cash Box Kings’ lyrics.
Songs like “If You Got a Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend” poke fun at the state of society and its apparent need to self-criminate through social media. This upbeat social commentary is set to the musical craftsmanship of perfectly twangy southern blues guitar solos and harmonica peels that serve to accentuate the meaning of the song in an unexpected way.
Where blues traditionally stick to vague tropes of relationship, work, and pleasure, Royal Mint swerves right into the oncoming traffic by refusing to mince words when delving into political opinion. The bold lyrical edge of “Build That Wall” has a target that’s difficult to ignore at best and at worse enrages any right-wing, neo-con, Pro-Trump’er that might take offense to the lyrics. In that respect, the lyrics are funny because they are all too true, a fact the song both laments and indulges in.
The easy-on-the-ear listening of Royal Mint is a tiny treat when considering the average track is only three minutes long. With less than an hour of music, this album leaves you wanting more – but maybe that’s exactly the point.
Royal Mint is out on June 29, 2017 from Alligator Records – don’t let these blues get by you, or you’ll be singin’ the blues (insert rimshot here for lame pun).