King Solomon Hicks – Harlem (Mascot)

He calls himself King.

And this could be Solomon Hicks’s crowning glory.

The Harlem based bluesman might be a tender 24.

But he’s been frying fretboards for 18 years now.

And there’s very little this fresh-faced bluesman doesn’t know about the genre’s rich tradition.

His assured take on Gary Wright’s My Love Is Alive oozes class.

Then there’s a stirring rendition of Sonny Boy Williamson’s Help Me.

But it’s Hicks’ originals that truly strike a chord and prove his aching authenticity.

The high octane 421 South Main is spine tingling in its ambition.

Have Mercy On Me is built on a classic gospel foundation.

And instrumental Riverside Drive allows the King to really motor.

Making yourself heard as a six-year-old in Harlem isn’t easy.

Continuing to cause a stir in one of the most musically diverse cities in the world is a fresh challenge.

But Hicks broke through, broke barriers and broke the mould.

And, on this evidence, he looks set to stay right at the top of his beautiful game.

Wright’s My Love Is Alive is an infectiously wild tour de force.

The fusion of the King’s casual chord play and some edgy brass makes for a Harlem highlight.

But picking out the pick of this record’s blistering bunch is utterly futile.

It’s a record heavy on highlights.

And it’s light on mediocrity.

King Solomon Hicks has served up a right royal banger with his dream of a debut.

A crowning glory? Maybe.

But don’t be surprised if his rule extends for decades.