It's always great when somebody lives it, and Big Dave lives it. He's all about the blues, the road, it's pure commitment. His latest sees him teamed up with producer Steve Dawson, one of the great acoustic sound-shapers the country has produced, and more country blues than McLean has delivered before. With the rock-solid rhythm section of John Dymond and Gary Craig (Blackie & the Rodeo Kings), and guests such as Colin Linden and Colin James, everything here was set up for a career album for Big Dave.

With a mix of smart covers and originals, McLean had some serious subject matter to work with, some personal loss. Both his mother and brother had died, and he pays tribute to both. The Fallen is for his brother, a lament for sure, the weight of the loss on his shoulders. His mother gets a special tribute, a new arrangement of Amazing Grace placed in a song McLean calls Shades Of Grace, featuring top gospel singing from the renowned Regina and Ann McCrary.

There's plenty of fun though, with the covers and the originals. James plays a mean mandolin part on the Tampa Red number Dead Cat On The Line, a ragtime-influenced number dating back to the Depression. McLean's own I Best Choose To Pick The Blues features a typically spot-on Linden slide part, and pretty much sums up McLean's career path. This is McLean's A-game.