‘Pocket full of Nothin’ opens with ‘Songs of the Blues’ which really sets the scene for the rest of the record.  It’s an up tempo lyrical tribute to various styles and causes of the blues. From Chicago, Texas, to broken hearts, drink and beyond, it’s an introduction that doesn’t take itself too seriously and, also shows that the Canadian bluesman knows that there’s more to the blues than standard twelve-bar shuffles and clichéd lyrics. 

The refreshing thing about Big Dave McLean is that he isn’t just another blues guitarist soloing his way through twelve self-pitying songs trying to hit that perfect note. As this record clearly demonstrates, he switches between electric, acoustic and slide with ease, and none of his playing is flashy either. Mclean is one of those rare and gifted guitarists who can get the best out of a fretboard with the minimum amount of notes.

Bringing on board a horn section comprising of Jerry Cook on baritone sax, Dominic Conway on tenor sax and Malcolm Aiken on trumpet for the recording sessions allowed McLean to deliver a fulsome and meaty sound that augments and expands on the music. An effect that is most noticeable on Greg Allman’s ‘Midnight Rider’ and the self-penned ‘All Day Party’.

Indeed, one of the strengths of this record is the fact that other instruments and musicians are brought to the fore.  Just listen to the excellent sound of Chris Gestrin playing organ on Willie Dixon’s ‘Voodoo Music’.  With his husky and gravel edged voice, McLean sounds effortlessly at home on the acoustic shuffle of ‘You’ve been Told’ as he also does on the heavy blues growler ‘Just to be With You’

It’s no easy task to pigeonhole McLean’s sound or his style.  There are hints of Atlantic, Stax and Chess Records all rolled up in this collection, but he sums it up perfectly when he says:

Music is just music and when it’s good, you forget about the genre or whatever label you want to put on it, and just appreciate the beauty of what you’re hearing.

‘Pocket Full of Nothin’ is more than good.  It’s a vibrant fun-filled party hosted by a master craftsman who loves his work. Infusing his music with that love has created an infectious earworm of a record that hopefully will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.

‘Pocket Full of Nothin’ is released on Black Hen Music on 1st November 2019.