Randy McAllister’s eighth album, the soulful, roadhouse-bluesy Dope Slap Soup, is solid all the way through, with a couple of standout songs.
Like the once-thriving but now, it seems, underground North Texas blues scene, the Grammy-nominated McAllister remains virtually unknown here at home while winning critical acclaim elsewhere. Australia is one place where he’s big. Earlier this year, he earned nominations in three categories in Australia’s BlueStar Music Awards: best harmonica player, best international male vocal (with Buddy Guy, Ike Turner, and Tom Waits), and best international solo artist (with Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan). Here, he picks up gigs where he can. Among the highlights are McAllister’s own “The Girl Ain’t Right,” which deals with losing his woman to a “dirty mutha” and believing they got what they deserved in each other, and his slow-burning version of Mike Morgan’s “When I Get Back Home,” which deals with the long odds of staying in love.
McAllister obviously has a tasteful feel for the blues. He manages to stay true to the attitude — dealing, sometimes humorously, with life hitting you repeatedly in the face — without getting stuck in the past. He respects the genre in a 21st-century way, singing about a dying van he got from Baptists, an immigrant woman’s decaying life, and the ham sandwich and bag of Fritos that ended up costing him $127 because he wrote a hot check accidentally.
He originally released Dope Slap Soup independently in June; this incarnation through the small Reaction Records label is getting much wider distribution and well-deserved critical acclaim. Local blues fans know his work — so should the rest of the public.
Sat at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St, Dallas. 214-747-4422.