Since 1995, Corey Harris has released three solo records on Chicago’s Alligator label which stand out both because they blend the Delta blues sound with more contemporary R&B, reggae, and hip-hop influences and because Harris often writes lyrics which address contemporary political issues like police brutality. On his most recent release, Harris joins veteran New Orleans piano player Henry Butler for the rip roaring set of 15 songs that is Vu-Du Menz.
Lyrically there is some interesting work here. "Mullberry Row" looks at the now infamous relationship that Thomas Jefferson had with his slave/mistress Sally Hemmings. "What Man Have Done" tackles the inability of people to escape the injustices of this world no matter how much they want to while "Song of the Pipelayer" has pretty apparent drug connotations.
The real highlights however appear in the music. Harris and Butler move adeptly between sinful blues and ragtime tracks like "Shake What Your Mama Gave You" to the reverent sounds and themes of pieces like "Why Don’t You Live So God Can Use You." On "There’s No Substitute For Love" -one of the best tracks on Vu-Du Menz- the duo put the soulful sounds of African American spirituals to decidedly secular lyrics.
The entire disc runs just short of 55 minutes and while there is little groundbreaking material here, there is a lot to like. Moreover, Vu-Du Menz contains contemporary blues music that avoids sounding trite or played out.