“Skin & Bones” is Phil Doleman’s first solo album in fifteen years. Wait. What? Really? Yes it’s true dear reader, this stalwart of the ukulele scene has been recording with others for quite some time and therefore been neglecting his solitary session side. Let me assure you friends this recording was worth the wait.

The CD is a true roots affair featuring the multi-talented Mr Doleman on ukulele, vocals, banjo, guitar, bass and even a smattering of jug culminating in a glorious journey into the sounds of traditional swinging blues including songs written by Muddy Waters, Slim Gaillard and Gus Cannon. Ever the socialite however, Phil did invite a few guest musicians into the studio including Percy Copley on mandolin, Matthew Walton on fiddle, his own daughters to tap dance and blow a little flute and Opera-lele’s George Bartle who happily demonstrates his diaphragm can handle the brass section just as impeccably as his tenor tonsils.

Aside the vintage classic cuts the title track is penned by Phil himself, a wonderful instrumental banjo piece rhythmically backed with dancing shoes. The way this tune sits so effortlessly with the other songs (many written over a hundred years ago) is an accolade to Phil’s writing talent which is justly comparable to his instrument artistry and indeed his knowledge and understanding of the musical genre. In fact his dedication to the traditional is so pure that the final track, Big Bad Bill, was actually recorded on a 1920’s wax cylinder recorder and you cannot get any more authentic than that!

The title of the seventh track of the album, written by Barbecue Bob, I think provides a lovely summation of the essence of this release; Mississippi Heavy Water Blues. Let that title sit on your tongue and you’ll get a taste of the treats this creation has in store for you. Phil Doleman’s undeniable talents smoothly associate themselves with those he has accredited in giving him influence as he comfortably stands shoulder to shoulder with his giants.

More Mr Doleman Sir? Then head over to Phil’s website, Bandcamp page, Facebook profile & Twitter Feed.

This review originally appeared in issue 14 of UKE Magazine.

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