Blues is an increasingly conservative genre. These days, the rawness and suffering is more likely to be contrived than genuine.
This is not to say people are not hurting anymore, it's simply that when the woes are presented according the traditional formula they generally come over as something old hat and borrowed rather than true blue.
Mike Ross is from the North East of England but is clearly well schooled in Southern American roots music and has honed his guitar technique and gritty vocals accordingly. This means that he is able replicate the troubadour's world of lost highways and lonely bars but in so doing he seems to be mainly voicing experiences that are not his own.
The slow burn of Dark Powder is the most personal of the songs, documenting his recovery from drug and alcohol dependency but, without wishing to undermine this achievement, one imagines most bluesman have similar addictions at some time or other. It would be a novelty if he were singing about the struggle to remain stone cold sober or warning us off cocaine.
It's true that the lyrics to Jenny (Sun Goes Down), dedicated (like the album title) to his wife, depart from the clichés yet, significantly, is the one song that is more pop-orientated and is the exception that proves the rule..
For the rest we hear too many of the 'love me all night long baby' type macho sentiments that are both outmoded and predictable.
Mike Ross' website