Reviews for Better The Devil You Know (2016)

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"But McLean's commanding presence already fills the room with a boom that rumbles about love, homicide, and roadside specters."

"Larry LeBlanc of the renowned Billboard magazine wrote about Dave McLean: "Dave HAS done more to shape western Canada's blues scene than perhaps any other artist ..." What should I add on to say himself. "Better the Devil You Know" is my blues album of the week!"

"His rough-hewn guitar style and lowdown harmonica make him a true force of nature on the blues scene today."

"Canadian blues guitarist Big Dave McLean finds the sweet spot brought to glorious life when gospel, rock and the blues incestuously interbreed."

"Better The Devil You Know will be a fine addition for anyone who's a fan of modern acoustic blues."

"Well-assembled, with top notch sound, it also features some outstanding musicians, most notable and most versatile, perhaps, is the multi-talented Steve Dawson who produced and mixed the set."

"The interplay of these musicians is seamless and natural—perfect accompaniment for McLean’s often rough, but authentic delivery. This is no nonsense, no pretension blues, served up right."

"He knows how to sing about hard-scrabble life and has a suitably gravel-lish voice for it."

"He uses bare knuckles throughout, and his guitar work is as earthy as his lyrics. Pick this guy up if he’s hitching in your home town."

"His voice is glorious to behold. Grab a beer, and settle in with The Devil You Know; you’re in for a great time."

Big Dave McLean recorded his last album, 2015's 'Faded But Not Gone' at Steve Dawson's Nashville-based Henhouse Studio, and the project earned him a Juno nomination. For his latest release, the veteran Canadian musician ventured back to Tennessee, and 'Better The Devil You Know' likewise bears Dawson's signature care and instrumental richness.

"The album closer is a raw cover of Johnny Shines’ “Pet Rabbit,” which was recorded in a ’30s style recording booth at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville."

Better the Devil You Know, his sixth solo release, is the follow-up to award winning Canadian Big Dave McLean's 2015 Black Hen Music debut Faded But Not Gone. The project was produced and mixed by Steve Dawson at his own Henhouse Studio in Nashville where 12 of the 13 tracks were recorded. Dawson also plays on a variety of st8ring instruments. The selections include five penned by McLean, one by Dawson, and one he co-wrote, a pair credited as traditional and four covers.

"...Delta blues, Chicago blues, and country-styled gospel on a set that has something for everyone!"

 "McLean plays guitar and harp, but the biggest draw is that voice of his, in which you can taste the salt of back-breaking work, feel the drip of country sweat, smell the sawdust..."

"A Canadian institution, Big Dave McLean should please blues fans from all over with this winning set of old school blues and gospel tunes."

"Opening with Life On The Road, Big Dave McLean has a casual, JJ Cale meets "Little Feat" easy blues feel joined by Steve Dawson on lead guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jon Dymond on bass, and Kevin McKendree with cleverly stylistic piano."

"This album has lots of great songs with sweet licks and tight musicianship.  But its secret may be its production by Steve Dawson, who has established himself as an important force in roots music..."

"With his whisky soaked voice tearing it up even further, every note sounds as authentic as it gets."

"This may well top off my list of best albums of the year.  It is certainly deserving.  Do yourself a favor and add this to your collection.  You will not be disappointed."

"DESPITE the fact he has a Juno, eight albums and more than 40 years of music-making under his proverbial belt, you’d be hard pressed to find a more humble guy than Win- nipeg bluesman Big Dave McLean."

"He gives a nod to his hero Muddy Waters with great version of Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had and to end the album in fine blues style, visited Jack White’s studio to record Johnny Shines’ Pet Rabbit in White’s 30’s style recording booth.  When it comes to lowdown blues, Big Dave McLean’s new record is as real as it gets."

"With Better the Devil You Know, Big Dave McLean continues to set an example for new generations of musicians by constantly evolving his sound, embracing new artistic collaborations and making records that just keep getting better and better."