Like the first Fat Possum recordings of Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, this album of blues and spirituals opens a window on a musical world that’s nearly lost. Rural Georgia picker Bryant’s repertoire seems undisturbed by the past 50 years of music as she stomps and calls through 15 tunes accompanied only by her guitar. Although she’s just 60, Bryant learned from her father and uncle, who were back-porch musicians well before she was born, and that’s why a good portion of this CD — her first national release — sounds rooted in the first wave of blues recording. Then there was the radio she heard as a teenager, when she absorbed the sounds of the electric blues played by DJs named Daddy Cool, Thin Man, Satellite Papa, and Hound Dog. She also had a gospel group with her sisters that performed in Baptist churches.
From all that Bryant has forged a wide-ranging guitar style that incorporates Piedmont pick-and-strum ("Broke and Ain’t Got a Dime"), one-chord romps ("Black Rat Swing"), slick alternating bass-and-lead picking ("Blues All Around My Bed"), and flat-out ragtime ("Georgia Buck"). Over that her thin and lonesome voice rides on crest-and-coast melodies, making the most of her strong but spare notes by pushing them up to quavering emotional highs. Bryant has much in common with Mississippi’s Jessie Mae Hemphill, the hill-country musician who befriended her on the festival circuit in the ’80s. Hemphill suffered a stroke several years ago that robbed her of her guitar prowess, but Bryant is still vital, and the spare production by former Fat Possum employee and current North Mississippi All Stars road manager Amos Harvey respects the integrity and sincerity of her authentic country blues.