By Mike O’Cull
22-year-old blues phenomenon Christone “Kingfish” Ingram blows past all expectations on his brand new Alligator Records release 662. The record drops on July 23rd, 2021 and shows the young guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter growing and maturing in a very public way. Kingfish again worked with Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge on the set and the pair created a pumped-up and profound batch of new music that’s sure to be another important chapter in Ingram’s already-illustrious story.
Named for the area code of his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi, 662 builds on Ingram’s roots in the Delta but also includes the more worldly perspectives of a young adult who has spent the last few years on the road meeting life head-on. “662 is an album that sits on the legacy and influence my blues music elders have instilled in me,” he reveals, “but is also my unique, personal story.”
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is the most lauded new blues artist of the last few years. He first appeared as a YouTube sensation in his mid-teens and caused quite a commotion. His absolutely wailing guitar style was wise beyond his age, as were his expressive vocals, and blues fans started to get wise to this compelling and youthful artist who was creating the future of his genre in real time. His debut album Kingfish came out two years ago and led to a Grammy nomination, several Blues Music and Living Blues Awards, and an incredible amount of record sales. He’s been praised by Buddy Guy, Rolling Stone, and NPR and is considered by many to be a generational talent who is on the vanguard of American guitar music. Ingram’s skills and impact rival any blues master you’d care to name and he’s literally just getting started.
Kingfish immediately gets his party going with his title track “662.” It’s a scalding blues/rock track about the place he comes from and hits like a speeding train. His energy is unchartable and he lets every bit of it fly here without ever sacrificing phrasing for velocity. His vocals are warm and riveting and display the tone and confidence of the seasoned artist he’s becoming. It’s a positively blasting cut that’s impossible to deny. Next up is “She Calls Me Kingfish,” a strutting blues number that once again tells of the eternal difficulties of love. Ingram’s voice has a huge presence that cuts right through his hard-jamming band without ever faltering and his guitar playing sets the roof on fire.
“Long Distance Woman” is a driving mid-speed rocker with a Hendrix vibe and a strong modern feel. Kingfish practically tears the strings off of his guitar on the riff and in his solos and presents a dramatic, intimidating attitude that lets him stand tall next to any guitarist in the business. He attacks every note he plays with his entire self and puts down an entrancing sound that never lacks focus or confidence.
A haunting, moody slow jam, “Another Life Goes By” takes on the ongoing American issues of gun violence and hatred in a very human way. Ingram speaks his mind over a hip hop-informed beat and uses a clean, reverberated guitar tone that drips with atmosphere. His lyrics are fearless and speak with a fundamental sense of right and wrong, a rare feat for such a youthful artist. This type of song that deals with modern problems and uses modern sounds is, indeed, the future of blues music and will remain relevant for decades to come.
“My Bad” is a thumping, hip-shaking song with its own identity and cliche-busting style. It’s the sound of Ingram expanding into the musician he’s inevitably going to be right in front of us all and his casual brilliance points to a limitless future.
Other amazing moments on 662 include “I Got To See You,” “Something In The Dirt,” and the soulful bonus track “Rock & Roll” written for his late mother. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is, by all indications, a bottomless well of music and 662 is required listening for every blues lover out there. Spin it once and you’ll understand.
Listen to “662”
Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram website