feature: there’s no substitute for the real thing. check out koyote patrick polk’s delta blues on ‘issues.’ #soundcheck

June 11, 2014

You can’t fake the blues. Not the real blues, anyway. There’s a realness to that dirty, grimy delta blues of Robert Johnson, RL Burnside, and now Koyote Patrick Polk. On his latest EP issues, Polk strips it down to just a voice, a guitar, and a slide. The way it’s meant to be.

Words by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Just like there’s an infinite variation to a person’s life, there’s an infinite variation even within the stripped down confines of the blues. Koyote Patrick Polk sings with an oceans deep rasp beyond his years. On the opener “if you don’t deal with your issues then your issues will deal with you,” Polk blends his self-depreciating humor and social criticism with classic delta blues, for a song that’s simultaneously modern and timeless. On “take a walk inside my shoes,” Polk lays out an autobiographical story song. “You gotta be blue if you’re feeling like me / Can’t nobody tell me what I’ve seen.”

On previous albums, Koyote has experimented with electronica and folk, but on issues, he shows that his voice is best suited when it’s given space to ache. On the standout “drink myself alive,” which Polk has been performing since his days at Occupy LA in the fall of 2011, he spends half the song accompanied by just a steady tap on the guitar. Then he busts out a solo that brings John Fahey’s interpolation of Mississippi John Hurt’s style back around to its roots. While bands like The Black Keys have earned fame and fortune mining the delta blues for pop song ideas, on issues, Koyote Patrick Polk shows that there’s no substitute for the real thing.