Robert Finley / Black Bayou (US, Easy Eye Sound – EES-033, 00888072552593) <October 27, 2023>


Robert Finley / Black Bayou (US, Easy Eye Sound – EES-033, 00888072552593) <October 27, 2023>


Black Bayou is the fourth full-length studio album from American blues musician Robert Finley, released in 2023. It has received positive reviews from critics and builds upon his earlier style to incorporate soul music.

According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Black Bayou received "universal acclaim" based on a weighted average score of 92 out of 100 from four critic scores. Writing for American Songwriter, Hal Horowitz scored this release 4 out 5 stars, stating that compared to Finley's previous work, "there’s a crispness created by this less structured environment that is natural, earthy, and spontaneous". Glide Magazine's Jim Hynes suggested that this album could help Finley break into the mainstream. Mojo published David Hutcheon's five-star review that calls this "a slow cruise through a landscape populated by Flannery O’Connor scenarios and escapees from the untamed ecosystems of Tom Waits’s imagination" and Southern Gothic soul music. Jim Shahen of No Depression considers this work an expansion of Finley's sound that includes doo-wop ballads and swampy grooves. In Spill Magazine, this was an Editor's Pick and critic Ljubinko Zivkovic scored it a 9 out of 10, comparing the music to the heydays of Stax Records, writing that it is "as if Albert King with Booker T. & The MG’s are back at it again, but this time around Robert Finley does that sound some excellent justice, and life is all good again". Johnny Sharp of Uncut stated that on this release, Finley's lyrics have expanded beyond his personal experience and Finley has grown into a more mature storyteller.

Mojo ranked this the 75th best album of 2023. Uncut editor Michael Bonner included this album on his list of the best of the year. Editors at Spin included this among the albums of the year.