Stoneking's 2008 Jungle Blues is an enjoyable trip through a kaleidoscope of a rich musical past. "Jailhouse Blues" is every bit country blues as "The Love Me or Die" is flavored with the Caribbean, while the title track, "Jungle Blues," has a heavy streak of vaudevillian carnival that a Tom Waits track might warble over. He's obviously well-immersed in his chosen genres, and plays the music as more of a continuation rather than as merely a pale throwback. While a few tracks have some affectation, Stoneking has thankfully kept from immersing his entire album in canned scratches, hiss, and pops unlike a fair few modern revivalists, but as the sound seems to come from so genuine a place, they would hardly be necessary.
The album's only problem is that for the uninitiated to these earlier forms of music, the steam might run out for them a couple of tracks before the end. Either the album might have benefited from one or two more hookier upbeat numbers or at least a jostle to the track order, but it's hard to believe someone with a passion for this form of artistry would be trying to grab a mainstream audience. In the end, I would think it beneficial for a first-time listener to not know or try and forget Stoneking's pedigree to keep this from merely coming off as a striking novelty record. At the right moment in the right setting (I'm thinking late in the evening, a few drinks in, maybe a smokey game of pool being played...) throw C.W. Stoneking's Jungle Blues on the old juke, and you'd be in for a treat.