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A Review of Hugh Laurie's Let Them Talk by Ross Mikesell — Sessions 27

October 05, 2011

Despite being a comedian, author and lead actor on popular television show House, Hugh Laurie has the blues. But that’s a good thing. He obviously has a deep love and respect for traditional blues and his treatment of them on this record shows it. His song selection ranges from well-covered standards (St. James Infirmary, John Henry) to more obscure, but still worthy, choices (Six Cold Feet, Police Dog Blues) and for the most part he sticks close to the original arrangements. On occasion he steps out and shuffles things around, particularly on the Professor Longhair cult classic Tippitina. The whole album is steeped in the flavor of New Orleans blues, which by nature is a colorful, buoyant style and by the sound of things it’s definitely Laurie’s bread and gumbo.

In fact his guests on the album, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Irma Thomas are legends of New Orleans music scene and each feature on a song here to very good effect. In the end though it’s Hugh Laurie’s show and he certainly has the musical chops to carry the weight of the album. He takes on the role of an enthusiastic professor of a survey course on the history of the blues, the kind of class you’d never ditch. It has a similar feel to Greg Allman’s recent album, the excellent Low Country Blues but what really makes the Let Them Talk shine is how much fun it is. Just listen to Laurie’s maniacal laughter has he kicks the old standard Swanee River into a rollicking high gear and try not laugh along with him.
As always you can purchase and of the artists or albums mentioned here at Sessions 27 record store on State Street in downtown Bristol.