When I read a bio of an artist that starts “Born in 2002”, I get the old man feeling; but then since my mind is still seventeen, even if the body doesn’t agree, I just lose myself in music that covers many, many generations and then age is irrelevant. The young guitarist in this instance is Adam Schultz, who I first encountered when he made such an impact on Clarence Spady’s album Surrender (reviewed here on Bluesdoodles). Clarence mentors Adam and brought him in on his last release; one track impressed enough for me to say: “a superb guitar solo that has some lovely flourishes…this could have lasted another hour at least!” Well now this youngster has his own album out, called Soulful Distancing; a nod, no doubt, to the soulful side of the blues he carries off with aplomb as well as an almost inevitable reference to the world as we know it these pandemic days. The cover shows Adam peering over his Stratocaster to illustrate! Spady has co-produced the album and brought in an array of session stars to back up the guitar prowess of Adam and to further nurture the jazz and blues melange that flows from his fingers. By the way, Adam isn’t just a player; he can compose in a mature and knowing way that belies his tender age, as he illustrates on the five original tracks.
A cover of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s A Real Mother For Ya from 1977 opens the album with a funky, jazzy and impeccably played reading…we do get a solo from Adam that is skilful and the tone suits this adaptation perfectly. Early In The Mornin’ is a song that saw the light in 1947 courtesy of Louis Jordan but perhaps better known from the BB King version. this is a slightly more languid reading with more superb playing; the bass is solid and the brushwork on the drums is magical…as is the guitar solo. Good Conversation, written by Adam, appeared on the aforementioned Spady album.
There are no seaside keys to welcome it, but it follows the same pattern: the vocals have a bit more bite and the solo is different enough to warrant a listen to both. Harlem Tonight is the expected soulful structure that would have been a hit in the 70s when soul seemed to rule…after rock and glam rock stepped aside. Who (Who Told You) was known only as Who when released as a single by Little Walter; another quality solo from Adam allows me to forgive the lack of a harp solo. Have Some Faith is even deeper in soul but the sweet vocals of “Russian born chanteuse” Ekat Pereyra make it something a bit special: somehow the rock structured guitar solo fits, works and adds to the whole.
Cure For The Blues gets horny and Hammondy…although that bass line is exceedingly good. The title, however, to my mind, is much more soul than the blues reference can only be mood not genre. Toxic Medicine brings the sax into play on a soulful song; the guitar solo matches the lyrics as it too expresses its love and obsession.
Can I Change My Mind written by Barry Despenza and Carl Wolfolk, but a hit for Tyrone Davis in 1968; a typically rhythmic (proper) R’nB song faithfully rendered here and with a neat solo to lift it above the routine sound that this song could have had. Cut You Loose dates from 1963 when Ricky Allen released this Mel London composition: the original is an energetic song typical of the day and here it is slowed and souled…it does work well and the jazzy runs in the guitar solo make it very different; as does the imaginative Hammond solo.
The final track is the blues classic, 44 Blues. This came to prominence when Howlin’ Wolf turned it into a guitar-led Chicago style blues and shaded Roosevelt Sykes recording…although the roots of the song go back to the early 20s before Sykes added lyrics and was the first to record the song that references the number a few ways: a gun, a train and a cell number. Here it sounds a bit more like the Clapton version, but the fingerstyle playing is great and the whole song is the bluest here and is, therefore, the most played on my hi-fi.
Having listened to this album a number of times the overriding sense is one of the excellent musicians playing excellently and, if you like the more soulful side of the blues, this will be a must-have. It’s a bit too soul for my aged ears but the whole thing is a triumph of its ilk.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for a lesson in consummate musicianship. If you like soul ahead of the blues, you’ll love this
A Real Mother For Ya (Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson)
Early In The Mornin’ (Jordan/ Bartley/ Hickman)
Who (Who Told You) (Little Walter)
Have Some Faith
Cure For The Blues
Can I Change My Mind (Barry Despenza / Carl Wolfolk)
Cut You Loose (Mel London)
44 Blues (Roosevelt Sykes)
Adam Schultz: guitar
Adam Cohen: bass
Sharon O’Connell: drums
Robert O’Connell: keyboards
Tom Hamilton: saxophone
Clarence Spady: vocals
Michael Angelo: vocals
Ekat Pereyra: vocals
(iTunes then decided to supply one of the most underrated British heavy/psych/blues bands…Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovel are a trio of brilliant musicians that at the time give Sabbath a run for their money whilst conjuring Blue Cheer and their own unique take on quality rock…their second album (Check ‘Em Before You Wreck ‘Em) gave me the raw and brilliant Do It Now and the second track which is even better and called, enigmatically 2 Tonne F**kboot…glorious!)