“Hard Road Blues”, a mix of originals and respectful versions of songs from founding fathers like Blind Willie McTell and Mance Lipscomb, shows Theessink’s deep and original understanding of the country blues. As songs like the original “Minnibelle” and the traditional “Two Trains” show, Theessink’s interest in the genre arises not from a prurient or nostalgic attraction to its exotic subject matter, but rather from a genuine fascination with the playing and singing of ist practitioners. “Minnibelle” achieves an authentic sound without resorting to lyrical cliches or imitations of ethnic speech: The authenticity lies in Theessink’s grasp of the deep structure of the form. “Big Bill’s Guitar”, a paean to Big Bill Broonzy, skillfully interweaves elements of Broonzy’s style – his thwacking, empathic fingerpicking and his “talking blues” storytelling style – into a song about Theessink’s inspiration. Lipscomb’s “Sugar Babe” and Theessink’s more interpretive version of Blind Lemmon Jefferson’s “One Kind Favor” showcase his mastery of the strange and diverse guitar styles of his forebears. Running like a golden thread through all of Theessink’s work – is his inspired and accomplished musicianship as both guitarist and vocalist.
- PC, Sing Out, Vol.40 #4 (USA) --