How do you get to play the blues? Some are born with it running through their veins and others discover it in a Louisiana swamp, but it sounds like John J.Presley found it in a dusty box in his garage, and then made an album right there on the spot, while the discovery was raw, fresh and vital and the garage was still echoing from the shambling rock wannabes of years gone by.
White Ink isn’t the first we’ve heard of the throaty troubadour from Birmingham (UK), but it’s another shining example of what the BBC Introducing favourite can do. The energy and vitality just described build slowly through sinister, creeping opener ‘Come To Me’, and the outro is explosive; the dirty guitar which slithered thus far suddenly pounces. ‘Come Calling’ crosses over into the garage rock sound which pulls some of the strings on the record, a little more limber than the crusty blues which drags itself to the fore elsewhere, and ‘Sweet Superstition’ comes at the inimitable genre from a different – but no less authentic – angle.
A plodding bass string underpins a rolled-back guitar tone which lends an air of delicacy but innate power which stays beneath the surface until ‘Rise To My Confession’. Another ominous, understated marcher, the guitar is more biting here and Presley gets as close to face-melting as at any point on the record – elsewhere he’s content with the rib-shaking, heart-bleeding strains of the blues. The song gives the biggest chorus in the traditional sense, but the atmospherics of closer ‘Ill At Ease’ giving way in a crash and a flash to a refrain of “it’s not too easy to bleed” provide a standout moment on an album of carefully-considered garage-blues-rock from an unlikely neck of the woods. He’s from Birmingham, and not the one in Alabama, but at times you could almost convince yourself that he really has swapped the M6 for the Mississippi delta.