Mike Zito & The Wheel ~ Gone To Texas – CD Review

texasMike Zito & The Wheel
Gone To Texas
Ruf Records

Mike Zito has created a deeply personal album full of thoughtful lyrics and considered skilful guitar playing and his delicious and distinctive vocals a holy trio of skills, lyricist, vocalist and guitarist an amazing depth of skills that have been delivered consistently throughout Gone To Texas his fourth album.

We have Sonny Landreth adding a sonic layer with his swampy slide, on Rainbow Bridge, referring to a spanning bridge near Port Arthur Texas and an upbeat temp that drives the lyrics along.

Death Row has a dark tone with a stripped down approach, Mike’s vocals are gruff with held-in emotions and the percussive drumming from Rob Lee is the perfect accompaniment to the acoustic (is it a National steel) guitar sound produced, it is a song that you are strangely drawn, as with many of the greats of early Delta blues, into as you find hidden nuggets in the lyrics that are full of regret and the acceptance that there is “ No-one to blame…”

The following song with it’s amusing lyrics Don’t Break A Leg lightens the proceedings with a Blues/Funk Jazz sound with the mixing of Lewis Stephen’s Keys, Jimmy Carpenter’s Sax and Scot Sutherland’s Bass with Zito’s guitar adding instrumental interlude that is pitch perfect and the production by Mike Zito is classy as there is just enough and then the vocals cut in giving this instrument dominated track shape and soul.

On the following track Mike is joined by Delbert McClinton, The Road Never Ends, and has an energy that wakes you up this is a journey that grabs you by the throat and Delbert’s harmonica playing adds that feeling that the journey is not the easiest and goes round and round this is a maze of a trip.

Gone To Texas is a personal pilgrimage of a blues-man who has the winning combination strong vocals and on his Fender Stratocaster he is master of the six-strings.

It is good to hear a blues album by a guitarist that allows the voice to be king of the show and using the guitar brilliantly as the glue that holds the instrumentation together and drives the music along, in an unusual minimalistic cut down style this is not about the power of the guitar but its soul.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

BAND MEMBERS
Mike Zito – Guitar & Vocals
Jimmy Carpenter – Sax & Guitars
Rob Lee – Drums
Scot Sutherland – Bass

SPECIAL GUESTS
Delbert McClinton – Harmonica & Vocals
Susan Cowsill – Vocals
Sonny Landreth – Guitar
Lewis Stephen – Keyboards

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