SIMO – LET LOVE SHOW THE WAY – Album Preview:

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SIMO – LET LOVE SHOW THE WAY
OUT 29 JANUARY 2016
PROVOGUE/MASCOT LABEL GROUP

As if creeping from the Southern swamps and mist-soaked cotton fields, SIMO’s “Stranger Blues” is the perfect table setter for the Nashville power trio’s vibrant new album, Let Love Show the Way released on 29 January via Provogue/Mascot Label Group . The song is a blueprint for reinvigorating the fusion of jazz improvisation, downhome blues and classic R&B, as well as these genres’ psychedelic Brit Invasion and countrified Southern-rock manifestations. The rest of the record follows suit, a souped-up vehicle transporting the band on a deeply satisfying, off-the-cuff musical journey.

Cut entirely live in full, unbroken takes—vocals and solos included—the sound is primal, sweltering and immediate. “We live and die by the take,” says singer-guitarist JD Simo. “We don’t edit, and if there are overdubs, they’re minimal. I want it to be unaffected and pure. For me, the music that always resonates most is when a performance is captured. That’s what I love, and that’s what we go for.”

The first album ever recorded at Macon, Ga.’s Big House—the communal home of the Allman Brothers Band during their late ‘60s/early ‘70s heyday—Let Love Show the Way finds SIMO not just reveling in the hallowed space’s unique mojo and history, but taking it to a fresh and inspired place. As a musical unit, Simo, his longtime drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro have an undeniable chemistry, taken to even greater heights with JD playing Duane Allman’s 1957 gold-top Les Paul for every track on the record. This is the same six-string heard on the first two Allman Brothers LPs, the same storied guitar that delivered the unforgettable riff on Derek & the Dominoes’ “Layla.” JD is now part of an elite group of artists—including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Wilco’s Nels Cline—who share the rare honor of having wielded this talismanic instrument.

“There’s definitely a magical element to the recording,” Simo says of Let Love Show the Way. “The vibe of the Big House, using Duane’s guitar, plus all the touring we’d done leading up to it, all the refinement of the material on the road—it was a perfect storm.”

Let Love Show the Way was not planned—results this potent are difficult to script. In fact, when SIMO headed down to Macon, the band had an entirely different set of songs already approved for release by its label, Mascot Label Group—this last-minute trip to the Big House was merely intended to yield a pair of bonus tracks for a deluxe edition. But with engineer Nick Worley at the boards of a stripped-down mobile recording unit, the band caught fire, burning through more than a dozen tracks in less than 48 hours. Once they heard the raw and electrifying intensity of the mixes, they didn’t think twice about abandoning the original plan and rolling with what suddenly felt so right.

“As the producer of the project, I couldn’t live with myself if we didn’t use these songs,” Simo says. “I just felt it was better than anything the band had ever captured—so we decided to scrap the original record and build this new one around everything we recorded at the Big House.”

This choice to record at this historic location is a nod to JD’s lifelong reverence and respect for the musical pioneers who have come before him. When he was just three years old, seeing The Blues Brothers and Elvis Presley’s ’68 comeback special changed his life. “I was transfixed,” he says. “With The Blues Brothers, you’ve got John Lee Hooker with Muddy Waters’ band, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, Chaka Khan right after she made one of my favorite records of all time with Rufus, Rags to Riches. Not to mention some of the greatest rhythm & blues musicians to ever walk the planet—Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy from Chess, that incredible original horn section from Saturday Night Live, Willie Hall from Stax, who played with Isaac Hayes. I mean, it’s a comedy and it’s funny, but as far as exposure to some really heavy music—I wanted to be Steve Cropper, I wanted to be John Lee Hooker. And it was the same with the Elvis special—he’s in the black leather suit, still good looking and charming and singing his ass off. Seeing The Blues Brothers and that Elvis comeback special made me want to play music.”

 

While Simo is comfortable with his role as a bandleader, he’s never wanted to be a solo artist. “A band is something very unique and special,” he says. “You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Adam is one of my best friends. He and I have been through the whole scope of the journey so far together. And now, with Elad—who has taken the band to a new level—we truly are a team. We’re brothers.”

It’s a sentiment that’s reflected in the band’s egalitarian/improvisational approach to songwriting, even in the way SIMO sets up for shows—in a straight line across the stage, with no member given more weight than any other. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I love these guys and what they bring to our sound,” JD says.” Adam is an absolutely immaculate improviser. He’s completely free and technically the best musician in the band. I’ve done hundreds of shows with him, and I still don’t know what he’s gonna do or where he’s gonna take things—it’s inspiring. And Elad, he completes my musical thoughts. He is full of passion and enthusiasm and authenticity. He has absolutely no filter, both socially—which is hilarious—and musically, which is always incredible. In many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the band.”

Together, they’re an adventurous rock & roll trinity, a thriving creative partnership completed by JD’s combustible guitar playing and soulful vocals, and Let Love Show the Way is a game-changing album from a band in the midst of an evolutionary breakthrough. “I’m a stranger here,” JD belts on the record’s opening salvo, all mysterious swagger and smoky, downhome grit. But for a band with such with such memorable songs, uncommon rapport and awe-inspiring musicality, SIMO can take solace in knowing the line won’t hold true much longer.

SIMO are:

JD Simo – vocals/guitar
Adam Abrashoff – Drums
Elad Shapiro – Bass

Upcoming Shows

Saturday 21st November – Forum, London supporting Walter Trout
Monday 23rd November – St Moritz, London

CD Review: Delta Ladies ~ Refugee

Scan0001Delta Ladies
Refugee
Independent

 

Delta Ladies the combination of Vicky Martin, Vocals, Bouzouki, Kandela and Guitar that is dipped in the blues and Diana Stone, vocals, Keys and violin, on Refugee they have been joined by invited musicians with style to ensure the delivery of this fusion of music styles has uniqueness in the waft and weave of every track. Refugee is twelve original and distinctive tracks that explore the tonal shapes of the instruments as they intone hints and musical shadows from across the world. The violin has hints of Hungarian folk on Last Train on a track that is inspired and drenched in the delta blues, as the train sways and takes you on a journey deep into your personal thoughts. Rising Sun is a take on House of the Rising Sun that truly has stretched and explored the instrumentation, with the heat of the Kandela a handmade instrument cross between an Appalachian Dulcimer and an old English Psaltery, Rising Sun is slow and mysterious with the Udu from Danny Bryan giving the track a breeze from the Bombay Delta.
Paranoia once again using one-off instrumentation combined with honky tonk piano and Parisian violin from Mathieu Werchowski combining to create a fog of intensity. The interplay of the violin and Alan Glen harmonica playing makes Zen Hoe-down have a quality of its own intense, hypnotic and full of a dark patination. The title track is, as is this album, so difficult to describe as the music bends, shapes and expands around the blending of world music again the music has the feel of the mysterious east, almost an instrumental with words sung like a poem appearing to add the context and shows the inspiration for the album. Closing with an English traditional sound with vocals from Anita Mazzotta, Flamborough Bay is a true story from incident that occurred in the early 1920’s you are left with a tonal experience that is explorative, imaginative and challenges many pre-conceptions.

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

Track Listing

1. Devil Calling Out My Name
2. Last Train
3. More Trouble
4. Hellbound
5. Rising Sun
6. Sometimes the End is just the End
7. Paranoia
8. Devil On the Street
9. Brown Water Everywhere
10. Zen Hoe-Down
11. Refugee
12. Flamborough Way