COLD AND BLIND - Possessed By Paul James (Voodoo Rhythm)
Let's make something clear, Konrad Wert is Possessed by Paul James.

Reading about Texas musician Konrad Wert's background, the guy has the lineage to be singing the folk blues. Raised in a Mennonite Amish family, where both parents were a preacher and a piano player, it is clear that Wert absorbed the death trip inherent in the art form of blues. However, what makes Wert's music authentic is a raw vocal style and deep understanding of the music itself. Wert songs spins tales of people lusting, drinking, fighting then seeking redemption and grace.

When I first heard "Cold and Blind", I was struck by the attention placed on the live recording / production. The low-fi approach emphasizes the elements of Wert's strumming, percussive instrumentation and his passionate voice. As a result, the formula is successful. Purists might argue that at best Wert is just a diligent student of Harry Smith's Anthology of Folk Music; however, if you look closer Wert understands the primal, ecstatic beauty that is inherent in "hillbilly" - Depression era music.

Cold and Blind is full of many highlights. Some of the more memorable tracks include "Fiddle Run" with the song title's charging instrument, tambourine and stompbox. Lyrics range from "I love you!" to seconds later "I hate you!". Confused? Sounds like someone is need of marital counseling.

On "Love's Disease", a beautiful guitar line is combined with a melancholic fiddle, to create a mournful mood. Here the spaciousness of recording technique really brings out the original elements of Possessed By Paul James. Another track such "Come to The Water" employs finger picking guitar and the same percussion as "Fiddle Run" with great effect. Defintely rowdy, the song gets your feet stomping. On the sixth track, "Ferris Wheel" displays a more "pop" element but is able to retain the rural aspect of his roots.

Possessed By Paul James or, more specifically, Konrad Wert is really on to something with his approach towards music. Cold and Blind is album that demonstrates a unique talent who is following his vision and sees the transcendent power of blues in a digital age. - Arthur S