After the excellent album, On At Eleven, which is reviewed here on Bluesdoodles and has his background details, I was full of eager anticipation for the follow up…called simply JD Simo, this new work has a slightly more exploratory feel. It still has JD’s take on psychedelia suffused with funk, blues, soul and rock backed by an unbridled intensity on both the originals and the unique approach to the covers.
The opener is the first rewarding challenge…how about soulful psyche? Well, it actually works on this intriguing piece with brilliant bass playing sparsely behind the rapid drum patterns as a falsetto vocal and clever guitar phrasing add up to an irresistible whole…the phased solo is worth the entry fee alone.
Next track, Love, continues the psyche sounds with layers of funk, before a truly inventive solo cuts in and sews up the song quite brilliantly in a manner that reminds me a little of the fabulous Colorcode album by Stevie Salas. Funk is again to the fore on Out Of Sight; unsurprising as it’s a James Brown song but with a stunning guitar orchestration that puts it on a different plane while paying due homage. Higher Plane, aptly, is next up and brings in fuzzed-up blues with serious weight and, for me, shows where modern blues can travel without losing the feeling that the blues will always furnish…love it. The wig out to the fade is just superb!
One Of These Days is a tad too soulful in colour for me, although the guitar is still very well worth listening to as the chord work is enchanting…imagine JD backing Curtis Mayfield and injecting his imaginative guitar style into the proceedings and you’re nearly there. The brilliantly, unpronounceable Issac Hayes song, Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic, is next and is a great reading that keeps the funk at its heart but JD adds weight and depth with the guitar, and I purposely use the phrase again, orchestration backed by a tight as a duck’s backside bass and drums.
Next is a short instrument that, mercifully has no relevance to the ‘boy band’…Take That is a frantic country picking tune that I haven’t even tried to emulate on my guitar: picking that fast would lead to serious digit injury but is a great listen. Anyone trying to cover such a great blues composer as Blind Willie Johnson needs to be either faithful or brilliantly different without taking anything away from the original…guess what? JD does just that and takes this 1930 song, keeps its inherent spirituality and brings bang up to fuzzy date. Help (not that one) is the penultimate song and the echoed chords and vocals build in a Hendrix like fashion into a slow blues number of complex and yet accessible originality and a solo that sends the tingles free.
The final track, Anna Lee, is pure blues with delicious slide guitar throughout and evokes the 30s but with an electric (in every sense) update. This track is on almost constant repeat simply because of JD’s modern take on a classic format…its genius, infectious and simply wonderful!
This album may not be as immediate as the last one as the experimentation and complex soundscapes JD employs really need a few close listens to appreciate his skill in composition and, of course, his incendiary playing ability. I would recommend you give it a try as, with patience you will most definitely be rewarded.
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous guitar led and imaginative blues, rock, funk and soul album that reveals more layers on every listen.
1. The Movement
3. Out of Sight
4. Higher Plane
5. One of These Days
7. Take That
8. Soul of a Man
10. Anna Lee
JD Simo: Guitar, Vocals
Andraleia Buch: Bass
Adam Abrashoff: Drums