After spinning these two discs, I was hooked on Taj Mahal, so I reached for another record and grabbed The Natch’l Blues. I was leery, fearful that this would be the slogging blues record I dread. And true to its name, it’s more consistently bluesy. It came out a year ahead of Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home, and it was just his second record, so maybe he wasn’t quite ready to stretch out so much. Still, he pushed the boundaries a bit, especially on “Corinna” and “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” both of which drift into a soul territory, and even a little bit of gospel on the latter. The bluesy numbers have the kind of hippy swing to them that you’d expect from a record released in 1968, the notes bent ever so slightly, as if to suggest the silhouette of a go-go dancer shaking on a table top. And throughout there’s still that voice that’s soft and hard-edged all at the same time, and has a way of finding the soul of the melody and hitting you where you live. This is blues even a blues hater can love.