Prowlin’ Lobo Blues – The New Eric Allen Album – Review

Prowlin’ Lobo Blues will be available on the 12 January 2023 on all platforms !

Bad wolf of the Beijing blues music scene, Indiana native Eric Allen is coming back with a second album that feels more alive and gritty.

Fast Banjo and fast mandolin, from the South Dakota Badlands to New Mexico, this is how the new album from Eric Allen starts. 13 tracks to travel, feel happy, sad, confused, bitter, amused, and more.

While mainly having Eric Allen on guitar, harmonica, and washboard, a well as James Thomason on double bass for most tracks, the album features a long list of special guests, all legends and musicians of the Beijing underground music scene, as well as 5 tracks featuring Eric solo.

The first track, entitled “Prowlin’ Lobo”, and also the title track of the album, is light and fast with a great mandolin solo and a precise banjo, telling the story of the travels of a big bad wolf as a good introduction to this album that will have you travelling in all parts of life’s absurdity and harshness.

The second track of the album “Itinerant Blues” sounds like an echo to one of Eric’s best tracks, “40 Years”, recorded on his first album two years ago, a tale of the american working class, of poverty, hard times, and broken families.

The third track, “Black Water Buff”, tells the tale of a man killing his wife for being too much of a pain and feeding her to the alligators, definitely a great piece of song writing with a strong feel from the American south.

The next track, “Workin’ on the blues”, is probably one of my favorites on the album and is kind of a departure from Eric’s usual sound as the addition of a funky bass from Maikel Liem (of The Amazing Insurance Salesmen, Bob Dupont & The Outstanding Vegan Bankers), a horn section, and backing vocals from Greg Luttrell (another champion of the Beijing music scene) lifts the song up into what is probably the commercial hit of this batch of tracks.

The next track, “Moose Jaw”, features another hero of the Beijing music scene, Pikar Rozi (of the gypsy jazz band the “Hot Club of Beijing”) with Eric Allen going wild on harmonica and guitar while Pikar hits the bass and follows flawlessly.

“Somewhere Beyond” is also one of the tracks that particularly resonated in me.

“Somewhere beyond
there’s the stranger’s words
that it touched them somewhere inside.
Somewhere beyond
there’s the stranger’s words
that it reminded them of home.”

Any artist on the road will recognize the meaning of those words.

We are now going into a very special track “Fire in the Canyon”, a track that blends, probably for the first time, folkish blues from the American south, Mongolian throat singing, and horsehead fiddle.

As the longest track on the album, Fire in the Canyon is definitely one for the ages. “Don’t believe everything’s on fire” could be a metaphore for Plato’s myth of the cave, you be the judge.

“Short Line Rag” is a track for which i had the pleasure to edit the music video. Is that about a woman or a train? I don’t know anymore, but these train stories definitely echo another deep feeling from the American midwest and south, the deserts, the Mississipi River. A cool acoustic blues – “she’s a black smoke mama”.

“Penance” is a track with not many lyrics, but a deep meaning

While your thoughts wonder as you listen to the long guitar melody and chords this song holds one wonders if it’s not all of our hearts that have one day paid the toll.

“You know this song

is so dark and long,

no light can I ever see.

Will you wait and wait?

Yeah my heart, mind pay the toll.”

Track number 10 “Ball in the street” is a classic folk song from Mr Allen that goes into the nostalgia of childhood and better days, the loss of direction in life and the realization of the loss of attachment to people and things, a beautiful poem for the melancholic people out there.

“Terrebonne”, is that french ? probably is, in French it would mean good land, and like half of the US is probably located in what used to be a part of the French empire in North America. 

The song works as a second version to “Black water buff” (or is it a sequel ?), you decide.

The next song, “Tomcat Stroll”, features Greg Luttrell again, on harmonica this time, as well as Kenny Lenore, who was also quite a character of the Beijing music scene prior to the covid years. It’s nice to hear some piano and Kenny’s abilities on the instrument definitely go hand in hand with Greg’s harmonica and Eric’s guitar and vocals. 

Track 13, “Free Blue”, ends this great second album, a one chord blues with a little bit of blues and chicken scratch guitar by Hikmat Yakha, also a legend of the local music scene.

“Fly away without misery.

Just let the blue wash over me.”

In conclusion:

If you like americana, bluegrass, blues, rock n’roll, great lyrics and acoustic guitar, this album is for you, so have a listen ! you won’t regret it. 

This right here’s the Prowlin’ Lobo Blues. I got em’.

From lobos to hobos, trains, outlaws, struggling musicians, and hometowns, Eric Allen’s 2nd album, Prowlin’ Lobo Blues, explores life on the rails and road during the mid-19th century (Short Line Rag) and Great Depression (Itinerant Blues, Moose Jaw), as well as today (Prowlin’ Lobo, Workin’ on the Blues, Somewhere Beyond). This lifestyle mixes freedom (Tomcat Stroll, Free Blue) with uncertainty (Fire in the Canyon), lawlessness (Terrebonne / Black Water Buff), regret (Penance), and hometown nostalgia (Ball in the Street).

Prowlin’ Lobo Blues is authentic, dirty, raspy Americana, blues, outlaw, and country, with a touch of bluegrass. As a follow-up to Eric’s debut album Eric Allen (2021), Prowlin’ Lobo Blues continues that authentic feel with acoustic instruments; this time including banjo, mandolin, horsehead fiddle, washboard, and Mongolian throat singing in addition to harmonica, upright bass, and folksy guitar fingerpicking.

All 13 songs on Prowlin’ Lobo Blues were written by Eric Allen from 2019-2021. This album includes 5 solo tracks, as well as duo, trio, and full band tracks. Keep a workin’ on dem blues!

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