Tom Hambridge crosses Abbey Road creating The NOLA  sessions

Tom Hambridge will need no introduction to anyone who has listened to Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, ZZ Top, Foghat, Eric Burdon and many, many others…why? Because Tom has written over 400 songs, which have been recorded by a host of artists, and all of them have had considerable success with the Hambridge penned songs. Add to this his vast body of work as a drummer and a producer and, quite simply, the man is a genius.

On The NOLA Sessions (as in New Orleans Louisiana) we have a list of guest musicians that would make any artist green with envy. Although not noted for his vocal prowess, Tom makes a good job of it across the 13 tracks: his tone and intonation suit these compositions very well. What you can expect is high-quality blues with aspects of jazz, soul, latin and gospel all blended into a stimulating and varied mix.

The lead track, Blues Been Mighty Good To Me, is really a duet with the much-lamented Allen Toussaint providing piano and vocals alongside Tom. The atmosphere pours out of the speakers from the first note as they trade verses before we are treated to a classic piano solo. Bluz Crazy is a juke joint romp with Tom’s drumming skills to the fore as the band expands on the traditional structure. It has barreling piano and a well-paced and thoughtful guitar to make it stand out. Into the swamps of Louisiana next on This is the End of the Road where the slinky slide of Sonny Landreth weaves it spell across the entire track. This one is on ‘repeat’ already so I can revisit that unique guitar slide sound that Landreth pushes out so effortlessly. The name checks in the lyrics include Foghat (at whose concert Frankie was conceived apparently!), BB, Chuck and Bo. The solo is sublime. From swamps to street parties in New Orleans as the French influence in the town is reflected in the anthem, I Love Everything, the brilliantly named Naughty Horns join in the party and give it a celebratory blow. The drums and B3 provide a solid, rocking background as we build to a great piano solo. What You Leave Behind has the swirling B3 of Neville surrounding the Horns and subtle bass and acoustic, as Tom tells a tale in a more musical, Knopfler-like way. Little Things has a fantastic line which is a great philosophy on life…”the more you don’t give a shit, the easier it is to sleep, so I don’t let the little things bother me”. It also has a great stomp beat and the guitar is clever in the extreme as it adds colourful touched behind the verses and then provides a solo that will be the envy of slide players everywhere. Co-written with Gary Nicholson, Whiskey Ghost first appeared on Buddy Guy’s ‘Rhythm and Blues’ album, and gets a minor makeover with the help of Landreth as Tom gives it a more latin tinged rumba beat with the guitar punctuating and, via use of the volume control as well as the bottleneck, giving it a depth and a warmth as would be supplied by the Jack Daniels in the song. Save Me ups the pace and supplies a rock song with a gospel overlay which sounds supreme. It was a co-write with the former Derek And the Dominoes piano player, Bobby Whitlock. The Horns and the delightful McCrary sisters provide the gospel feel as the searing guitar of Shane Theriot provides the rock and a solo of such invention. A Couple of Drops can only be described as haunting as the bass and drums back the clever guitar and build the song into an out and out rocker. The pace slows again for Masterpiece where the gaps between notes actually broaden the song. This is all subtlety and space: a song to lie back and absorb and, if you’re like me, enjoy a glass of wine and a cigarette as it just washes over with the classy instrumentation. (The wine and ciggy aren’t obligatory, but absorbing it is!) Landreth’s slide again illuminates as he shares the song about Buddy Guy’s bus driver, Charlie McPherson called Charlie and Me. Even the 25 second fade with Landreth just letting the bottleneck talk is worth listening to. We head into the country style next: a co-write with Jeffrey Steel, Trying to Find It is a ballad with sensitive work from Kevin McKendree on piano and wonderful guitar patterns from Rob McNelley. The final track is a little surprising as Tom’s voice is backed with beautiful picked guitar and from JohnFohl and an emotion-filled cello from Nathaniel Smith. A great, passionate way to close the album.

Don’t make the mistake of expecting Guy, Bonamassa et al regurgitated; this is an album of Hambridge’s own stories, moods and expertise. It is full of exceptional writing and playing and it is a treat from beginning to end. This album isn’t as immediate as some of Tom’s collaborations: but if you really listen a few times, you will find something new each time and come to love this as much as many of his other ventures.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Blues Been Mighty Good To Me
  2. Bluz Crazy
  3. This End Of The Road
  4. I Love Everything
  5. What You Leave Behind
  6. Little Things
  7. Whiskey Ghost (Hambridge/Gary Nicholson)
  8. Save Me (Hambridge/Bobby Whitlock)
  9. A Couple Drops
  10. Masterpiece
  11. Me And Charlie
  12. Trying To Find It (Hambridge/Jeffrey Steele)
  13. Faith

All songs by Hambridge, unless otherwise noted

Musicians:
Tom Hambridge:
Sonny Landreth: ‘Slydeco’ guitar
Ivan Neville: B3
Allen Toussaint: piano, vocals
Shane Theriot: guitar
Kevin McKendree: piano
Rob McNelley: guitar
John Fohl: guitar
David Torkanowski: piano
Tommy Mc Donald: bass
Clavin Turner Jr: bass
Nathaniel Smith: Cello
Sarah and Rachel Hambridge: vocals
The McCrary Sisters: vocals
The Naughty Horns

Recorded at The Parlor Studios, New Orleans
Produced by Tom Hambridge
Mastered at Abbey Road Studios, London by Sean Magee

 

Tom Hambridge crosses Abbey Road creating The NOLA  sessions

0 thoughts on “Tom Hambridge crosses Abbey Road creating The NOLA  sessions

  • 3rd October 2018 at 11:23 am
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    This record is awesome (!)…. Should be in ALL CAPS 🙂 ….. Compare this to what is being heard on “popular” radio today ; You will think “Wow, why is THIS stuff (Tom Cambridge & the like) NOT being heard?”

    Reply

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