After 100 years of blues recording, you wouldn't think there was much new worth doing. I'm a lifelong blues fan, and I'll defend the art form until my death ..... but its not a genre of innovation or current discourse. By and large there's not been a pressing need to buy blues records beyond the chestnuts rereleased or recorded after the 60's and 70's blues revival.
Except R.L. Burnside, a contemporary of Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, Skip James and Son House. Like his Mississippi brethren, he was largely unknown until old age. But unlike them, he chose not to live only in the past.
In 1998 he released Come On In, an experimental mix of acoustic blues with electronica production easily filed with the other curious artistic breakthroughs (Buffalo Girls) you never listen to.
But Come On In led to Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down, which got it absofuckinglutely spot on. It's one of the best blues albums ever and proof that blues need not be relegated to museums and documentaries. The tape loops, scratching and electronic tricks are still there, but the overall balance is more organic.
It's a bleak album, filled with songs of death and betrayal. Yet it is strangely uplifting, perhaps because it is (or should be) a resurrection. The blues had a baby all right, and this is what it sounds like.
Hopefully someone with better wordishness than me/I will have a go now in the comments. I just think it is one of those rare fully realized artistic visions that any collection is incomplete without. I'll link to Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues - an autobiographical take on Skip James' Killing Floor Blues - Got Messed Up and Miss Maybelle to give you an idea.