Surrounded by first call players such as Kevin McKendree on keyboards, Colin Linden and Steve Dawson on guitars, Colin James on mandolin and the McCrary Sisters on vocals, guitarist and singer Big Dave McClean, has crafted a disc of straight shooting blues that are aimed more at getting through another day than lighting up the next party. Things kick off with the desperate Tough Times where he details his penniless circumstances and wonders where he’s getting the next meal. From there he looks at the blues as salvation, I Best Choose to Pick the Blues, notes that even the big and tall can fall, The Fallen, looks at the paralysis that sometime comes with more than one option in dealing with a situation, Sittin’ On A fence, gives some advice on how to deal with life’s curveballs and the pitcher who threw them, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, and finds the devil in his music of choice, Devil’s in the Jukebox. Speaking of the Devil, he finds his woman walking in lockstep with evil, Devil Got My Woman and discovers him again on the Tom Waits cover, Mr. Siegal where he wonders how the angels get some sleep when the Devil leaves the porch light on. Not all is lost though: on Shades of Grace he looks back to the church for some amazing grace to get him away from the bad news on this tail and on Oh- Mr. Charlie- Oh, he proclaims he’s not going back to the dark side again. McLean has a gruff, no nonsense vocal style that serves the tunes well and adds a great counterpoint to the National Steel guitar, banjo, mandolin and pedal steel laid down by McLean and his guests.  If you want someone to share your pain, McLean is a good traveling companion. - Mark Smith