Recording in Carrboro, N.C. must’ve had an influence on Davis Coen. The blues crooner hits several high points on Ill Disposition, and a crack backing band doesn’t hurt: veteran Joe Izzo supplies the backbeat and a revolving cast provides the thump on bass including Ben Palmer and Steve Chall.
Coen’s vocals are crisp and clean, adding polish to his rough-edged, acoustic-blues sound. But it’s his inspired selection of covers which lifts Ill Disposition.
Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train” hasn’t sounded this good since Jerry Garcia injected a bluegrass bent. Add in Coen’s virtuosity during Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can,” and John Lee Hooker's “Mambo Chillun,” and the ingredients for a percolating blues stew emerge.
Whether you’ve a penchant for traditional blues (“Lay Me a Pallet on Your Floor”), rave-up rhythms (“Kansas City”) or gently rocking sway (“Let it Rock”), Davis Coen’s roots-based Ill Disposition is a first-class travelogue down America’s musical back roads.