Motivational Speaker

Alvin Youngblood Hart. Artemis/Tone-Cool.

While he’s a master of old-time country blues, Alvin Youngblood Hart is no hard-core purist—the versatile guitarist plays everything from hillbilly laments to ’70s soul to cerebral jams. On the irresistible Motivational Speaker, he embraces heavy rock, drenching the songs with big riffs and joyously flashy solos that never seem excessive. Hart uncorks a soaring instrumental reminiscent of Hendrix at his jazziest on “Shootout on I-55,” launches a blazing electric boogie on “Big Mama’s Door (Might Return),” and detours to Nashville for a twangy cover of country outlaw Johnny Paycheck’s “Meanest Jukebox in Town.” And the eerie “When Can I Change My Clothes” is a masterpiece, with Hart imitating a graveyard spirit, his gritty voice a mixture of anguish and determination.

  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.

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