'Good Days a Comin' for Ivas John Due to His Solid Fifth CD on Right Side Up Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Jun 09, 2016 02:36 PM EDT

If you didn't know any better, you might think-if you heard Good Days a Comin (Right Side Up Records)-that you were hearing some itinerant flat- and finger-picking folk singer who rides the rails 1940s hobo-style like Woody Guthrie, picking up knowledge and friends along the way and putting his Fedora on the sidewalk for chump change. Then you realize it's a Southern Illinois University graduate named Ivas John whose mastery of both Appalachian mountain music and Mississippi Delta blues coalesce within the soul of this one mighty fine singer-songwriter.

His voice is warm and breaks in all the right spots. His eight originals (four of them written with his dad) bespeak a quiet elegance...and a folksy charm. He's like an old blues man (except he's white) with a twinkle in his eye and a bottle at his side. His cover version of "Dark As A Dungeon" by Merle Travis [1917-1983] will give you chills. It doesn't hurt that he has former Bill Monroe band fiddler Robert Bowlin sawing away behind him.

Dude can pick llke Doc Watson [1923-2012] or Mississippi John Hurt [1892-1966]. And that's a huge part of John's appeal. To put it in cultural terms, Ivas was born 75 years too late. Had he been born earlier, he'd be Lead Belly by now. (You should hear him cover Tom Paxton's "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" which takes Paxton's wanderlust and gives it a romantic edge).

With a tight little acoustic ensemble of guitar, mandolin, dobro, upright bass, drums and fiddle, Ivas John has now totally fulfilled the promise of 2007's Street Music, 2009's Live From St. Louis, 2010's Look Who's Crying Now and 2012's Doin' What's Natural. With the release of Good Days a Comin, it just might be time to revisit his older albums. He's since relocated to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to write his new songs next to the roll of the Mississippi river.

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TagsIvas John, REVIEW, Right Side Up Records, Woody Guthrie