Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites






Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites

Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites

Having heard all of the twelve tracks on the album live in 2016 when Simpson & Flemons visited Cardiff, I was delighted to be able to relive the night of live music once again. In fact, can re-live the experience as often as I like. The only things that are missing the presence of two great musicians and the interesting anecdotes and facts between the numbers giving context and a deeper understanding of the deep roots of the acoustic music being played. All twelve tracks have a purpose and in addition to the new arrangements and musicianship we have the blending, and mixing of British traditional music and blues in many guises and the common heritage of themes, lyrics and melodies the two traditions share.

The twelve tracks that are as they state ever popular to lovers of acoustic music, were recorded live during their sell-out autumn 2015 tour. Simpson and Flemons find a unity as they harmonise what are the common core of roots acoustic music from each side of the Atlantic. They find the common threads that show a deep psyche of roots music in the cultural memories of folk.  Martin Simpson and Dom Flemons champion traditional music that is still relevant and speaking to us today the modern audiences that packed their shows. The people travelled as did their music creating a river of creativity. Opening the album of delights with  Here we go as they pick up instruments and play.  Short Time Come Again No More reflects back across the Atlantic the suffering of the factory workers of the North West as well as those hit by the cotton famine of the American Civil War. A mirror image, re-working of Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More it hits the message home hard and the lyrics win through. The instrumentation throughout is fresh, lively with an energy that makes your feet tap and becoming engaged. For many this album will be an introduction to the Quills as part of the multi-instrumentalist repertoire that is Dom Flemons, this pipe-like instrument can be heard on Bulldoze Blues, inspiration for Canned Heat’s Going Up Country this combined with his vocals that have an authority and intensity as he spans the octaves with a purity and a mighty fine holler when required. Combining Martin’s scintillating slide and acoustic finger picking style joining in with Dom’s Quills with a piping call and the percussive bones this is music that sings from the heart deep into your musical DNA. The vocals are full of emotional intensity, yet at the same time, every song has a simplicity letting the words tell that tale of people’s experiences we all recognise today. The mix is enticing with Champagne Charlie re-invigorated and Coalman Blues telling the story full of humour and pathos. Every track has something to say to you the whole album zings with the energy of a live performance with emotions,  and the charm of music delivered with love and care.  All the traditional numbers are arranged by Simpson and Flemons and into the mix is a Flemon’s original Too Long I’ve Been Gone fitting into the mix perfectly.  A definite for your acoustic collection. I recommend close the curtains block out the world, sit back and be absorbed into the music and the power of the lyrics.

Mr Martin Simpson & Mr Dom Flemons – Ever Popular Favourites – Fledgling Records

TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. My Money Never Runs Out
  2. John Hardy
  3. If I Lose
  4. Little Sadie
  5. Pay Day
  6. Short Time Come Again No More
  7. Too Long (!’ve Been Gone)
  8. Bulldoze Blues
  9. Stealin
  10. Champagne Charlie
  11. Coalman Blues
  12. Buckeye Jim

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues







It Is not Broke as Mick Ralphs Blues Band Set Down the Blues

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues

 

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues on an album that personifies British Blues.  Mick Ralphs Blues Band album If It Ain’t Broke hits the blues spot of British Rhythm and Blues with its mix of British rock, Chicago and the elixir of blues feel that Mick and the band have in buckets and is poured over every track. The album is a mix of originals and classics continuing Mick’s musical journey as he takes us back to the smoke-filled clubs of the 60’s and early ‘70’s where we first heard the blues.  Opening with I Don’t Care, we are transported onto a blues cloud of delight as Jim Maving’s guitar joins forces with the power of Mick. Adam Barron on vocals delivered with panache curling around the rhythm section of Bassist Dicky Baldwin and Damon Sawyer on drums. You know this is a band that cares for the blues, feels the blues and to play blues that get your feet tapping with delight.

The two Freddie King tracks, Same Old Blues and closing track Going are blues classics you can connect to simple and timeless, here they are crafted to reflect the British tone and approach to a genre out of the USA. Other tracks that stand out from the crowd on this well-crafted album with Talk To Your Daughter with its driving guitar and rhythms,  along with Barnes & Seals Roll The Dice that just suits the style Mick favours that of Freddie King and Steve Cropper.  Then the number Well Connected with a modern feel from Maving & Maxwell brings an edgier feel with its harder blues edge.

It is very true that across the ten tracks the attitude is It Is not Broke as Mick Ralphs Blues Band Set Down the Blues. This is crafted blues, distilled the essence and combining with experience of guitarist Mick Ralphs’ time with Bad Company and Mott The Hoople and every note he has played on the journey that has led to the album of blues. If It Ain’t Broke is the perfect response as the band plays blues from the heart.

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Mick Ralphs Blues Band – If It Ain’t Broke

Track Listing

  1. I Don’t Care
  2. Shakey Ground
  3. Talk To Your Daughter
  4. Just A Little Bit
  5. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me
  6. Same Old Blues
  7. Too Bad
  8. Roll The Dice
  9. Well Connected
  10. Going Down

Bluesdoodles wishes Mick Ralphs a speedy recovery from the Stroke he suffered earlier this month.

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

 

With burnt Sienna hues, a trashed car on the album cover is the Wreck of Blues, the music Pontus Snibb and his band produces is a solid sapphire cut gem, and Pontus Snibb plays States Side Blues out of Sweden.  Wreck of The Blues, is blues that swirls with guitar licks that fall from the lyrics then adds a sting to the tail in the lead break as the guitar cries, howls picking up the vibe of the 1950’s. Without the band providing a rhythm that gives the blues depth we would simply have vocals and guitar the feel of the blues would be played without its body.  Joining charismatic frontman Pontus Snibb is drummer and Dad, Hakan Nyberg and bassist Micke Nilsson.

We have a hint of inspiration of the blues as he name checks on No Peace Of Mind head full of songs could be by Freddy King or The Stones. Elsewhere on the album BB King, Otis Rush and Clapton join the list. This is blues that shimmer, shake and have a deep groove that fills the speaker with funk. Opening the album with classic electric blues, More Blues and Blue Sounds lay down his credentials as a guitarist who understands the nuances of the blues with a rocky edge.  Then he changes the beat with Boogie Man, adds in shades of darkness, and a shimmer of fear as we meet the Snibbs Boogie Man. Electric guitar thrills spill over the whole number, some short and sweet others sustained.  The threat of something is spoken about at the beginning of Lightnin’ Change with a voice over from yesteryear. Then the chugging blues guitar picks up the beat and the vocals distorted continue sporadically in a track that feels like an instrumental. Then another change that works for me as Pontus picks up the acoustic on I’m Walking and we join him on a trip down the road a light and gentle interlude that works better that the previous track. We are back with sunshine groove of the blues with Turning Back The Clock, the sound certainly transports you back to Dance Halls of the fifties. Closing with Keep On Loving Me you are left with blues licks and riffs singing in your ears. Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb as you leave us wanting more of your blues style.

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Pontus Snibb – Wreck Of Blues

Track Listing

  1. More Blues and Blue Sounds
  2. Same Same
  3. No Peace Of Mind
  4. Boogie Man
  5. Longing For You
  6. As I Please
  7. Lightnin’ Change
  8. I’m Walking
  9. Turning Back The Clock
  10. One’s Too Many
  11. Keep On Loving Me

 

Irish Rock Album Solas is this The Answer


Irish Rock album Solas is this The Answer

Irish Rock Album Solas is this The Answer

Do not confuse the title with anything maritime! Solas is Irish Gaelic for Light, not the acronym – Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). With that clarified what about the music on their seventh studio album Solas? If you expect Rock with a loud shout you  will be disappointed. If you want light-rock fused with roots of Irish folk, lyrics that curl around with melodic intensity you are in the right listening zone.

The Answer, have taken one helluva musical journey over the ten years since the debut album Rise with its blues-infused rock.  Now on Solas the exploration of their Gaelic heritage in the musical tone and lyrical shaping full of misty mysticism, fear of the dark, hidden regrets and the light of hope is apparent.

Opening with the title track with a wave of sound or percussion that feels like a wave, James Heatley’s relentless drumming is the backdrop for Cormac Neeson’s vocals.  The chorus is melodic full of Celtic harmonies flowing as the music takes you deep into the soul of the band, their experiences and reflecting the light of Solas. The guitar work is huge as the number closes with a lead break that promises much from Paul Mahon.  Rock firmly rooted in the traditional shapes Beautiful World with its captivating opening chords full of Eastern promise. That opens up with instrumentation with the energy of rock contained to be played at eight, not eleven. The result is the lyrics dominate and it is the voice that is the main instrument, with Micky Water’s bass, along with the guitar and drums playing a supporting role filling in the gaps acting as lead breaks for the words.

Yes, now three tracks in this Irish-infused rock harnessing tones and textures from the folk tradition. The Answer, on Solas have a story to be told and heard. The ballad Battle Cry, this will be fantastic live as the audience picks up the chorus and lifts the spirits of all hearing the music. This is Irish folk-rock that fills the heart with melodic joy as Gaelic merges with the English. Half-way through Thief of Light takes us with mandolin and Celtic harmonious riffs far away with a reflective sound, that reminds us that sometimes we need to start again as if the dark is to be conquered and energy regained.

Then, a change of musical shape with Being Begotten as we head to a blues-infused Southern Swamp leaving the emerald-green of Irishness. This blues-infused feel reflecting their debut album Rise is found again with Southern-rock Demon Driven Man, with a rock n’ roll upbeat feel upfront and full of energy.

The three bonus tracks have an acoustic feel In This Land, Light In The Darkness both full of folk-inspired chords and structure and then a fuzzy reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Money.

The Answer on Solas deliver reflective rock, light and at times whimsical not something to play loud and hard but to sit and enjoy. Reflecting the turmoil of life and the need to go back to their roots and bring pure Irish gold into their rock. This is Rock that has a gentler edge softened by the winds of time and gives you space to reflect before cranking up the volume with a rock offering from a different part of The Answer’s journey or someone else in your collection.

That said Solas definitely has a place in your rock collection bridging rock with tradition. It is an album you will return to and on every occasion, your appreciation of the subtleties will grow as you hear more of the clever lyrics missed on the last outing.

The Answer – Solas – Napalm Records

NINE pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

        1. Solas
        2. Beautiful World
        3. Battle Cry
        4. Untrue Colour
        5. In This Land
        6. Thief Of Light
        7. Being Begotten
        8. Left Me Standing
        9. Demon Driven Man
        10. Real Life Dreamers
        11. Tunnel
        12. In This Land
        13. Light In Darkness
        14. Money (Pink Floyd Cover)

 

The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes


The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes

The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes

Rebecca Downes is not a foxy blues singer she has the speed and cunning of a leopard. Anyone who has seen Rebecca live will have two burning memories, the imitation leopard skin coat and the fact that her vocals are not an imitation they are her own and totally real. He voice has a great range and turn of tone she stuns you with her dexterity as depending on the number she makes the lyrics, cajoling, tempestuous, husky or smooth. Who is Rebecca Downes some may ask, well the Birmingham based singer and her band have been gaining attention wherever they play. This is the very reason she has been voted Best Emerging Artist and Best Female Vocalist in the British Blues Awards 2016. They are a sensation.

Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Her voice dances around the lyrics and the musical backdrop her band skillfully delivers.

The live music is a perfect set to demonstrate the depth of Rebecca’s catalogue it is a statement that this is a blues singer who understands the power of the lyric that she shapes with her tongue. Be Live is definitely a statement of intent to deliver music that we want to hear live again and again.

The album is mix of covers and self-penned tracks. Opening with Never Gonna Learn, from her studio album Believe there is one thing for certain buy the album and hear her live to learn what a hothouse of blues music this girl is. This is blues with energy and intensity that makes for sweet hearing. This live performance shows that Rebecca is learning and her skills are being honed having opened for King King and Norman Beaker. With another of her numbers Fever In the Night, the light jazz feel and the feeling of seduction Peggy Lee’s Fever is immediate comparison for all the right reasons. There is a raw animal vivacity about her singing throughout the thirteen tracks.
We all like something funky with an intro of drums guitar and keys on My Sweetness as the band are introduced. They are more than a foundation they are the glittering rock that allows Rebecca to soar and play with the lyrics as she wraps them around her tongue and delivers them with sweetness. The band tonight are Steve Birkett (Rhythm guitar, slide guitar & vocals d guitar and co-writer); Rick Benton (keys); Dan Clark (bass); Lloyd Daker (drums) and Rik Sandford (lea). This is a track that has funky vibe with some hot Southern licks.

A cover that stands out on the album is Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind; often covered and Rebecca has re-shaped the classic to suit her delivery. Steve Birkett’s lead break builds with intensity and hurt, maintaining the tension as he fades Rebecca introduces him and the keys cool the emotions before she picks up the song again gentle with hurt and despair.

We have a gentler tempo with Sailing On A Pool Of Tears, the blues guitar has the tempo that counters the voice that is full of emotional hurt, the feeling of despairing loss captured within this heartfelt song.

Closing the album and another friendly comment that warns the audience to Rebecca as she says We couldn’t do this without you. Live music needs an appreciative audience as she closes out the night with Beatles classic, With A Little Bit Of Help With My Friends. There is no doubt that this album, touring Rebecca will be destined to make many more friends through her music in 2017.

Rebecca Downes – Be Live – Mad Hat Records

NINE pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Never Gonna Learn
  2. Fever In The Night
  3. Another Piece of My Heart
  4. Night Train
  5. Long Long Time
  6. My Sweetness
  7. Back To The Start
  8. Rather Go Blind
  9. Basement Of My Heart
  10. Sailing On A Pool Of Tears
  11. Believe
  12. 1000 Years
  13. With A Little Bit Of Help From My Friends

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

 

 

Who doesn’t agree that music heard in a venue full of atmosphere, friends and people digging the music you love is just the best entertainment. Sometimes, though it is just brilliant to curl-up stay indoors and listen to your music we have the answer Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band, Live at The Southern.

If you like your blues shaken with ripples of funk, soul, and a R&B vibe then this is your stop on the platform of music on offer.  Jon Spear Band have captured a clean live sound, with just enough spoken interaction to make the music stand out from the studio version. With a dozen tracks we get to know the band well and meet some guests bringing a blues tonal depth to the event Live at The Southern.

We start, the evenings journey on The Devil’s Highway, the vocals are full the interaction between Dara James on lead and Jon on Rhythm full of interest with guitar solos that slipping and sliding around the rhythm section, bassist Andy Burdetsky and John Stubbenfield on drums.

For an opening track the guitar solo is long will the audience keep their interest? The question is answered with a resounding yes, with a delightful version of Robben Ford’s Nothing To Nobody.  Again the vocals are mellow the guitar work superb, what  lifts this number is the introduction of  saxophone from Haywood Giles and keys with a mellow flow from Adrian Duke.

The live Jon Spear Bands intriguing and different version of the Neville’s Brothers Cissy Strut gains and retains your attention. The bass once again is a fat full sound that pulls in the guitars and the undertones from Sax and organ as the night gets funky and cool giving this classic a welcomed outing. Following one eight-minute display we have a second long track with Have You Ever Loved a Woman with Freddie King’s classic speared and captured in the net of smooth blues ballads tonight.  Beginner Blues, a Frankie Miller number demonstrates as through these cool cats are no blues slouch they add that captivating mix of guitars, vocals and a driving rhythm. The covers are done with panache, capturing the essence of the original whilst giving them the bands personal interpretations. Into this mix are some self-penned numbers, The first of these is Old Soul, the vocals have a quality that make the lyrics pop out like a firework above the guitar and bass that you ears what to listen to with the crying sax makes the sound yearning blues. The piano intro is greeted with warm applause in a foot tapping number that has a feel good fun factor, as the beat takes us down to New Orleans to a Juke Joint searing sax and honky tonk make for a captivating combo. Closing with a track title I will not be arguing with Live Music is Better, The guitar has a stinging clear quality that Jon uses to full effect making you want to turn off the home music and go find a live gig. The album is a true shout out and celebrations of the power of live blues close up and dirty.

Recorded live November 2015  at  Recorded live at the Southern Café and Music Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Jon Spear Band – Live Music Is Better

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Devil’s Highway
  2. Nothing to Nobody
  3. Shake Your Boogie
  4. Before The Bullets Fly
  5. Cissy Street
  6. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
  7. Old Soul
  8. Blues About You Baby
  9. I Love My Skin
  10. Paid In Full
  11. Beginner at the Blues
  12. Live Music Is Better

Bad Touch Bringing Rock and Roll Truth Be Told

Bad Touch Bringing Rock and Roll Truth Be ToldBad Touch Bringing Rock and Roll Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told, deft touch this 5-piece from Norfolk have created an album that does not have a touch bad. This is definitely a classic rock with the heat of the south, with finger-licking good guitar and tasty spicy vocals that make this album destined to excite the listener.

Opening with a trio of songs that get the musical juices running One More Night gets the listener connected to the force that is Bad Touch by the time the first guitar riff is played, the vocals growl you know this is going to be Classic Rock that will rock and roll your soul on a musical fairground ride of enchantment.   Then the album leaps up high into the stratosphere with 99%, the single form the album that will be getting lots of radio play, a song that is destined to be a favourite live with its momentous chorus and stinging guitar hot as pepper sauce poured over blues that rocks.  The tone deepens, slows becomes heavier and more considered with the opening guitar of Waiting For This. The drums boom as we wait for the star of the show the vocal prowess of Stevie Windwood, they dazzle with power as he skilfully navigates the music road laid down by the band.  As with any rock band the rhythm section creating foundations for the guitar and vocal to shine and Bad Touch have achieved this in bucket loads, as the stunning closing bass line and drum combo demonstrates, leaving you want to hear more.

The trio of tracks are triumphant but the question can they maintain the momentum interest and rawness that is chiselled and shaped into a rock classic Truth Be Told.  I will let you into the secret Yes, they can and definitely do on the bands sophomore album.

Every one of the dozen tracks on the album brings its own link in the musical ride around a fairground of musical pleasures to explore.  Heartbreaker Soulbreaker has that little bit extra it fizzes with a soda stream of energy with its funky edge. The anthemic foot-tapping Let The Sun Shine has a bright and breezy vibe that makes you smile, a feel good southern fuelled number. The album bends and sways through rock nothing ground-breaking but solid as a rock. Outlaw is softer with Stevie’s vocals delivering the narrative as a story to unfold. The track has a sting just like an outlaw walking into town there is a tension and hint of danger.

It makes perfect sense closing with  The Mountain with acoustic guitar and the vocals central to the song with lyrics that make you sit up take notice and hear what is being sung. The quiet opening moves in like a symphony to an electric core with a wonderful solo from Rob Glendinning.  The track shows every facet of Bad Touch, rocking, brooding, insightful and above all musically appealing. Truth Be Told this is a band you want to hear live.

Bad Touch – Truth Be Told Release Date 2nd December

Pre-order Amazon  iTunes

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. One Night More
  2. 99%
  3. Waiting For This
  4. Under My Skin
  5. Heartbreaker Soulshaker
  6. Take Your Time
  7. Let The Sun Shine
  8. My Mother Told Me
  9. Outlaw
  10. Made To Break
  11. Healing Hand
  12. The Mountain

An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield

An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The RidgefieldAn Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield

Live At The Ridgefield, the first thing  you notice on this fourth live album from Todd is the cinematography is not the quality expected from a live professional shot DVD. BUT the most important part, the sound is excellent and captures the energy, enthusiasm that is Todd Rundgren. The appeal of the DVD is also the under production, this is who I am Todd Rundgren while he moves from Rock to Soul, it is his eclectic take on music the fans love the individuality, energy and connection with the audience. The show they chose to film was December 2015 at The Richfield Playhouse in Connecticut.

With a back catalogue that spans the decades from the1960’s up to now, as Todd adroitly says the evening is not long enough to fit the set list in. The set reflects the journey Todd has taken with his guitar and vocals and the set list moves from one song to another including his early days with The Nazz. The fans will love the choice yes, some favourites will not be there but he has ensured fans from all and any era will have the sound they love. From funky through to rock.
Picking out highlights as Todd puts down the guitar and funky drives the theatre, Love Science with some smart footwork as the band takes over. Following from funk Buffalo Grass a complete contrast with its luscious harmonies and a guitar that sings. The twenty-five tracks show the scope and range that Todd has delivered, melodic soulful ballads through to lead breaks that are understated letting the guitar strings do the talking. He has performed live songs not heard for decades and if you love music from both rock and soul genres this DVD/CD has it all delivered with verve and an intent to entertain with quality music.
As ever, the DVD has those extra nuggets that no CD or vinyl will ever have, this is no exception with band members interviewing each other.
The DVD/CD combo, An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield is one for the fans, this is a Todd Rundgren trip down memory lane. Every fan will remember the first time they saw Todd live, heard the number played creating a visual and aural treat to revisit the music that defines Todd Rundgren and the band.

 

An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield

An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield – Cleopatra Records

The CD/DVD package comes in a special 6-panel digipak.
Also available on limited edition vinyl.
To purchase “An Evening With Todd Rundgren – Live At The Ridgefield”:
CD/DVD: HERE
Vinyl: HERE
SEVEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

CD: Track Listing:

1. I Saw The Light
2. Love Of The Common Man
3. Open My Eyes
4. Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel
5. Black And White
6. Buffalo Grass
7. Determination
8. Lost Horizon
9. Bang The Drum All Day
10. Kiddie Boy
11. Black Maria
12. Drive
13. Secret Society
14. Love In Action
15. Couldn’t I Just Tell You
16. Can We Still Be Friends
17. Hello It’s Me
18. One World

DVD & BLU-RAY EDITIONS

1. Intro / I Saw The Light
2. Love Of The Common Man
3. Open My Eyes
4. Remarks
5. Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel
6. Black And White
7. Love Science
8. Buffalo Grass
9. Determination
10. Lost Horizon
11. Bang The Drum All Day
12. Soothe
13. Kiddie Boy
14. Black Maria
15. God Said
16. Drive
17. I’m So Proud
18. Ooh Baby Baby
19. I Want You
20. Secret Society
21. Love In Action
22. Couldn’t I Just Tell You
23. Can We Still Be Friends
24. Hello It’s Me
25. One World
26. Credits

JJ Thames delivers Raw Sugar

jj-thames-2

JJ Thames delivers Raw Sugar

The second album needs to assert an artist place when a debut album is well received. JJ Thames does just that on Raw Sugar an album that is beguiling in its blues of many colours and shades. Raw Sugar, is strong blues delivered by the latest in a long line of strong blues women that stretches all the way back to MA Rainey and up to JJ Thames. We have blues that growls and purrs full of anger and love.

Opening with Oh Lord a spiritual that lifts your eyes and immediately your attention is gained. As the religious becomes secular with Hattie Pearl replete with Detriot soul-driven blues. Throughout the thirteen tracks the music picks up from the past, Chess, Stax and Bluebird Records whilst, at the same time JJ shapes the music into her own mould she borrows from the past but never blindly replicating.

There is an urgency as she tells us she is leaving, this is a woman who knows her own mind. When JJ asks Only Fool Was Me, we can relate to the hurt and sorrow that she builds vocally in this emotionally charged number. The singing is full of heartfelt emotional power that is reflected in the deep soulful saxophone. This is music that when heard live holds the audience and sends shivers down the spine.

Blues are strong in Bad Man with the guitar and keys pulling the chords to produce a clarity of tone that is a perfect foil to JJ Thames vocals as we hear about a Bad Man. He is bad and going to reap what he sows with the horns acting as the punctuation so that there is no doubt about his badness!

With the horns burning up the sound scape and the deep throaty beguiling vocals from JJ there is no need to sing Don’t Stop My Shine on this album that shimmers with gospel, soul enriched blues. The title track Raw Sugar, again it is the mix of orchestration and vocals that makes this album a mix of rawness that stops it being sickly sweet. One for a collection Raw Sugar, unrefined is definitely a keeper for your CD collection.

JJ Thames – Raw Sugar – Malaco Music Group

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Oh Lord (Featuring Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons)
  2. Hattie Pearl
  3. I’m Leavin’
  4. Leftovers
  5. Woman Scorned
  6. Only Fool Was Me
  7. Bad Man
  8. Hold Me
  9. Don’t Sleep My Shine
  10. I Don’t Feel Nothing
  11. Plan B (Abortion Blues)
  12. Raw Sugar
  13. I Wanna Fall In Love

Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation

Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation

Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation

 

There is a definite blues scent of originality within the latest album, Blues of Desperation, from Joe Bonamassa. The whole album takes on a journey through the geography of the blues as the album explores the physical landscape of rivers, mountains and valleys by train. Other tracks explore emotional blues of love lost, misery and desperation. The eleven original tracks have a depth and musical arrangements that augment and add a wisdom to the lyrics. Building on his last studio recording Different Shades of Blue.

The opening track This Train gets the journey underway with a raw rhythm and curling guitar riff that mimics the movement of a train moving along the tracks with purpose and determination. The instrumentation at times is muted allowing vocals and lyrics to drive the soul of the album as on Mountain Climbing. This builds with backing vocal and guitar that grinds reflecting the struggles of the poor working man. The track is poignant and relevant for life today as in the historical context of the track just replace toiling in the fields with toiling in the factory or office! Where will we be taken next as swampy guitar sounding more Latin than Southern Rock we are off for a drive with a swing in our hips. The drive is a solution to stress as Joe B’s vocals sooth and ‘put on an old blues song. And let our troubles be gone Lets Drive”.

Nearly half way into the album and the journey takes up deep into the Blues of Desperation. The guitar is full of pleading and the low feeling of desperation, the drum beat is harsh and enduring like your brain whirling when desperation is like staring into an abyss of tears. The track is a sonic description of the emotional rollercoaster you feel when you are desperate, have now where to turn. Through the miasma whirl of instruments there is a touch of the east with Joe’s vocals a track dripping with honest emotion as it fades away. Phew! After all the emotion we take another return with the first single of the album The Valley Runs Low. The beat opens up and the tempo has a lightness and the backing vocals make this country fueled blues ditty flow from the speakers.

The urban blues and the electric guitar puts you in a spin for You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill and the Blues, the way we have come to know through albums and live shows. This album ain’t leaving us there, no the next station is Distant Lonesome Train. There is a real urgency and the drums beat out the feeling of the album as we explore the lonesome trail. The driving guitar and keys gives the Lonesome Train a real intensity.

With horns and an easy feel Livin’ Easy takes us back to the time of speakeasies and is redolent of the last in the structure of the melody. Like the rest of the album this penultimate track fits in perfectly. Closing with What I’ve Known For A Long Time a blues number that curls around the journey Joe has shared with you through his music for over an hour. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has hit upon a winning blues drenched formula of delights. Why, the tonal context of plugging into a Fender amp and using the power of his fingers on the six-strings creates a rhythmical sound that drives Bonamassa on an exciting road of twenty-first century blues.

The album is eleven tracks that are about more than the considerable guitar skills of Grammy nominated Joe B. It is about how music and blues-rock musicians reflect back to listeners experiences they can connect to. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has created an album that is drenched in the blues and is a mature reflection of urban twenty-first century blues.

There is a swaggering attitude throughout that adds not a smugness to the production but assuredness of an album that is complete. This is the first time Bluesdoodles has given Joe Bonamassa a 10 this is an inspired album that hit my blues-spot. This is a new approach more muted deeper tones, the result a powerful statement an album with direction and purpose.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

 

Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation – Mascot Record Label/Provogue Out 25th March 2016

Track Listing

1. This Train
2. Mountain Climbing
3. Drive
4. No Good Place For The Lonely
5. Blues of Desperation
6. The Valleys Run Low
7. You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill And The Blues
8. Distant Lonesome Train
9. How deep Does This River Run
10. Livin’ Easy
11. What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time

 

Some Facts and then a video for you…

Bonamassa and his long-time producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Journey) convened at Nashville’s Grand Victor Sound Studios (formerly known as RCA Studio A), and during an intense, five-day period they recorded 11 galvanizing songs with a crack group of musicians including drummers Anton Fig and Greg Morrow, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans, horn players Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra and Mark Douthit, and background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae and Juanita Tippins.