Steve Azar & the King’s Men – Down at the Liquor Store

Mississippi Delta native and roots music renaissance man Steve Azar returned home in a grand way for his first album in six years, Down at the Liquor Store.

Since the mid ‘90s, Azar has played what he calls “Delta Soul,” music that’s equal parts country, rock, and the blues. This made him an Americana artist long before that term became so hip in his Nashville neighborhood. For his homecoming, he further explored Delta blues and its role in the development of rock. He shares billing with the King’s Men, a veteran ensemble that backed B.B. King late in his career. Together, they entered King’s old haunt Club Ebony, which had been converted into a recording studio for the occasion. The result isn’t quite King’s second coming, but it does capture the comfortable familiarity that’s sought when seasoned players revisit their roots.

To drive home that these songs come from a real place, Azar waxes autobiographically on the title track. It tells of his childhood, spent learning under Sonny Boy Nelson and other local blues pickers. It’s a child of Lebanese descent living out a “Ballad of Curtis Loew” circumstance that inspired a successful run in Nashville.

Elsewhere on the album, “Tender and Tough” is the mellow ballad of the bunch, and it’s the most likely song to turn up in some random TV show or film that needs a little mood music. It’s awesome, but everything on the album pales in comparison to the title track’s retelling of the great American roots music backstory from a first-person perspective.

Steve Azar & the King’s Men
Down at the Liquor Store
[Ride]