Margolin won three Grammy Awards playing guitar for Muddy Waters and a fourth for playing on Johnny Winter’s Nothing But the Blues. In 2005, he won the Blues Music Award for guitarist of the year. Here, he plays every instrument: acoustic and electric guitars, electric slide, bass, and snare drums.
“Colleen” communicates without words. His instrumental “says” he misses her, she pleases him, and it’s a nice, lazy day in the park. (Colleen was his dog.)
Other highlights include the title song, about missing his wife and kids while he’s on the road, and a distinct, 7:26-minute version of Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel’s “Tears of Rage.” He does the song with only acoustic guitar and electric slide: “What kind of love is this that goes from bad to worse, tears of rage, tears of grief? / Why must I always be the thief?”
To show that words can count, Margolin also recites a bonus track, “You Never Know,” subtitled “spoken word blues fiction.” One of the articles he wrote for Blues Review magazine, it’s about conversations between a bluesman and his fans between sets. (The story includes an aside about a couple asking the musician to play at their wedding. He wonders if the lyrics would be too “down” for a wedding, then decides nobody would listen to the words anyway.)
Margolin’s willingness to experiment just a little pushes In North Carolina above the ordinary. When he stumbles into that alley wall, he seems to be looking for love — or at least lamenting its loss.