Black Rain falling on Mick Simpson Delivering A Blues Album

Black Rain falling on Mick Simpson Delivering A Blues AlbumRotherham born Mick Simpson has an impressive record of playing with the likes of Elkie Brooks, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and the late, great Gary Moore. This is his 4th solo album and it ably showcases a variety of styles by this talented musician. He says his style has been influenced by BB King, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Django Reinhardt and Robert Johnson. I’m not sure I could pick out all of these on the album but he is an accomplished guitarist. He has a pleasant tenor voice that you think you recognise, before realising that it is unique. Occasionally, I felt he was stretched to just too high a register, but overall, the singing is good. The album kicks off with the title track, Black Rain, a soft country rock, semi-acoustic tune, with a catchy chorus. It is a song of “bad karma raining down on me “with a nice bit of fiddle playing to complement the guitar and voice. We move on to Destination Blues, a boogie-woogie number with piano and horns – this would get anyone up and dancing! Don’t cry is a slow 12 bar blues in which Mick sings “Baby don’t cry, let me help you make it through” The guitar solo would certainly do it for me. Last train home is a song for all those who have been away for a little too long and are finally on that last train and nearly home.

There is some great slide guitar to ease the traveller on their way. The next track, Promised the Earth is a great song in the style of Gary Moore. It tells a tale of heartbreak, you promised the earth but never delivered. IT all works, with the guitar echoing the sentiment in the words. On River of Life, Mick gives centre stage to the Italian singer, Eva Carboni. He provides a gentle strummed background to her great vocals. The gentler mood continues in Sweet Lorraine, a slow blues with horns and strings in the backing. Another tale of heartbreak and lost opportunity with another great guitar solo. Then things get lively – To Hell and Back a fast rocking track with driving guitar but I felt that Mick’s voice lacks the grit that the track really needs.

A different take on the usual blues themes of my woman left me, my home is being repossessed and I have to pawn my stuff, Top of the World tells us that despite all these things, he stills feels On Top of The World. Some interesting lyrics in this slow blues lament with a positive twist. The final track is When the Sun goes down. Call me an old softie, but I am a sucker for this type of soft guitar-based rock song. I really liked this one! It is another one with a solo that reminded me of Gary Moore and is a song of hope for the future. “We can make it work, now that winter’s gone”. Just what is needed on a cold January day

 

Mick Simpson – Black Rain – Mad Ears Productions

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

 

  1. Sweet Lorraine
  2. Destination Blues
  3. River of Life (Feat. Eva Carboni)
  4. Black Rain
  5. To Hell And Back
  6. Last Train Home
  7. Don’t Cry
  8. Top Of The World
  9. When The Sun Goes Down
  10. Gravy Train
  11. Promised The Earth

 

Black Rain falling on Mick Simpson Delivering A Blues Album

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

 

Russia born, now based in the USA harmonica player Ilya Portnov loves the blues. His debut instrumental solo album, Strong Brew, is a mix of old-school blues and ragtime with gypsy and tango-influenced tunes. Ilya says he wanted to feature different kinds of music that played a big role in his life. Originally, he had planned to include Brazilian choro and forro tracks but now he plans to release these on a separate album. Strong Brew, with seven self-penned tracks and two covers. The lively arrangement of the Rev Gary Davis classic, Cincinnati Flow Rag and in complete contrast, In a Town Garden. A composition from Malvey Blanter and Alexey Fatyanov a popular Russian tune of the 1940s and a favourite of Portnov’s grandmother. Ilya plays a mean diatonic harp and is ably backed by keys, guitar, drums and violin as he moves from 12 bar blues to ragtime to tango. The appropriately named track 1928 would work as music for a black and white film set in a smoky 1920s dance club while Surfing the Baltic Sea brings us a lilting gypsy influenced tune with virtuoso harp playing. Occasionally verging on the pedestrian but the album is ultimately intriguing. Ilya’s harmonica blends blues with folk music of Eastern Europe the combination of roots-infused music works. The mix of music is a refreshing take on the range of the harmonica and Ilya’s musical influences. Stand out tracks for this reviewer were the 12 bar blues Behind the Wall and the final blues track Till The Early Morning. The title track, Strong Brew is a smooth mix of bluesy harp over a prowling, slinky dance background – this could be the way to go for this versatile musician.

Ilya Portnov  – Strong Brew – Independent

SIXpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing

  1. Sunny Afternoon Blues
  2. Surfing The Baltic Sea
  3. Dance of A Lonely Doll
  4. Cincinnati Flow Rag
  5. In A Town Garden
  6. Behind The Wall
  7. Strong Brew
  8. 1928

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew