Knackebrod Blues

Louise Hoffsten. Memphis International.

This passionate album testifies to the universality of the blues. Sweden's answer to Bonnie Raitt—don't laugh, she's damn good—Hoffsten tackles tunes from the likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Bobby "Blue" Bland but sings like she wrote them herself, unleashing unvarnished lust, anger, and regret. From the feverish haze of "Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes" to the swaggering "I Pity the Fool" to the rockin' "Slow Down," Hoffsten is all business, zeroing in on the simple eloquence of the lyrics rather than showing off with her vocals. Her strong backing trio features guitarist Staffan Astner, whose thrilling, Hendrix-inspired licks on "It Serves You Right to Suffer" are enough to make you wonder if Jimi didn't have a little Norse god in him.