Black Hen Music announces the signing of legendary Canadian bluesman Big Dave McLean, and will release his label debut CD, Faded but Not Gone, on March 3. Produced by Black Hen label main-man Steve Dawson, who also adds his award-winning guitar talents throughout the album, Faded but Not Gone was recorded at The Henhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, and engineered by the acclaimed Bil VornDick. Besides Dawson, the all-star cast of players backing McLean for the sessions features Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer) on keyboards, John Dymond on bass and Gary Craig on drums. Special guests include Colin Linden, Colin James and The McCrary Sisters. The organic qualities of the music on Faded but Not Gone extended even to the cover shot, taken at the old school photo booth in Jack White’s Third Man Records store in Nashville.
The dozen tracks on the new CD include a healthy dose of Big Dave McLean originals, as well as cool covers of songs from Skip James (“Devil Got My Woman”), Tampa Red (“Dead Cat on the Line”), Tom Waits (“Mr. Siegal”), Ray LaMontagne (“Devil’s in the Jukebox”) and The Wood Brothers (“One More Day”), plus Dave’s gritty take on the traditional title song. Throughout the album, McLean’s well-worn vocals, soulful guitar playing and mean harmonica wails permeate each track with an authority and passion that is palpable.
“It has been an extreme pleasure and privilege to work alongside such incredibly talented and gifted musicians and singers,” said Big Dave McLean about the recording sessions. “I feel we set out to make a great recording, and we totally accomplished our goal.”
With a voice and delivery that recalls the great Long John Baldry, Big Dave McLean has been the heart and soul of the Winnipeg, Canada, music scene and been singing the blues better than anyone there for decades. A Juno and Western Canadian Music Award-winner, McLean channeled the recent loss of his mother and brother into a vital, deeply heartfelt expression of loss and recovery on the songs from Faded but Not Gone, making it his most personal album to date.
That soulfulness truly manifests itself in particular on two of Dave’s original compositions: “Shades of Grace,” a lovely and poignant tribute to his mother, who used to sing “Amazing Grace” to him when he was a child; and “The Fallen,” an elegy to his brother, who passed away the week before the song was recorded.
“Everything about this project blew my mind – especially Steve Dawson,” recalled McLean. “Spending a week down in Nashville with his family was an amazing experience. I visited an old slave plantation, went to the Grand Ole Opry and sat in with Colin Linden’s regular jam session. I have always been into Delta blues and early Chicago blues, but it was nice to step it up and play in a more of a country blues style on songs like ‘Devil in the Jukebox’ and ‘One More Day.’ The whole experience touched me deeply.”