Hugh Laurie impresses with another bluesy raid on the musical vaults of the deep South

  • Hugh Laurie
  • Didn’t it Rain
  • Warner Music

AS a comedian, director and serious actor, Oxford-born Hugh Laurie is among television’s best-loved faces. But until fairly recently, few of us realised he was also a musician of note.

The release of his 2011 debut Let Them Talk saw the Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster and House star establish his credentials as a blues and jazz artist with a gritty collection of New Orleans classics.

An appearance at last summer’s Cornbury Festival only served to cement the former Dragon School pupil’s reputation as a polymath. His second album, Didn’t it Rain, sees Hugh venturing upstream to unearth more blues treasures, from Delta pioneer WC Handy (The St Louis Blues), William Jack Dupree (Junkers Blues) and Jelly Roll Morton (a startling I Hate a Man like You). And, once again, these pieces of black American history are in great, if unlikely, hands.

It also sees him indulging every blues fan’s dream, by collaborating with Taj Mahal (on a stirring Vicksburg Blues).

In the sleeve notes Laurie takes the opportunity to confess his “Englishness, whiteness and who-the-hell-do-I-think-I-am-ness” in the hope that listeners give the songs a “fair hearing”. He needn’t have bothered.

As the upper middle-class son of an Oxford doctor (and Olympic gold medal-winning rower) he could not be less-qualified to sing the blues. The fact he does so with such passion and virtuosity is a credit to his enormous talent and respect for these enduring tunes.