Recorded during a five-day sprint in Nashville, the Blackbird Diaries offers a rawer portrait of Dave Stewart – the producer, former Eurthymic and current member of Superheavy, with Mick Jagger – than you’re likely ever to have heard. The nasty, lurching guitar that announces “So Long Ago,” the album’s opener, is the tip-off. The song name-checks blues greats Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Mississippi John Hurt, and signals the roots rock-arama that follows. Bob Dylan gets a co-write on the mid-tempo ballad “Worth the Waiting For,” and Stewart essentially rewrites “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” to come up with “The Gypsy Girl and Me.” Stewart is a shaky singer at best, but Stevie Nicks (“Cheaper Than Free”), Colbie Caillat (“Bulletproof Vest”), Martina McBride (“All Messed Up”) and the marvelous Secret Sisters (“Country Wine”) bolster him. A man of many musical guises, Stewart may finally have learned that sometimes just being yourself will do.
Listen to “Magic in the Blues”: