John D’Amato establishes that Born Blue is a blues album with the song titles that run through it: “Helicopter Blues,” “Chicken Blues,” and “True to the Blues,” for example. But it is two songs on the album that really establish his personal connection to the blues: “Born Blue” and “Blues Man.”
The title song “Born Blue” relates the true story of D’Amato’s birth. He was born with a heart defect that literally made him blue at birth. It was a time when there was no treatment and most blue babies did not live, but D’Amato survived. He credits God and the guitar for his survival,throughout early childhood until an experimental treatment cured him at age 9 and both have continued to play significant parts in his life, as illustrated by the hot guitar licks, the song “Blues Man” and the praise song to Jesus, “My Only Friend..” He asserts his devotion to the blues again in the pledge of allegiance that is “True to the Blues.”
As for the rest of the songs, they explore a number of blues-based styles. D’Amato has the sort of gravelly voice that is perfect for blues-rock numbers like “Two Dollar Dress, “Soldier of Love,” “Helicopter Blues” (which also shows up in a very nice acoustic version), “Same Dog,” “Walk This Way” and “Hearts on Fire.” It also works well for more traditional blues like “Lovin’ You” and the lively ‘Chicken Blues.” He even proves he can smooth out nicely for the country blues ballad “Live Without Me.”
John D’Amato proves himself formidable on this album, a true blues man worth listening to. You may not need to be born blue, live in Nashville and record at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis to make a great blues album, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.