JP Reali shares A Highway Cruise

It’s funny how the music industry hangs onto ‘old fashioned’ terminology as this release, like many, is billed as an “EP”…now I remember EPs when they were the Extended Play singles that usually ran at 33⅓ instead of the normal 45 r.p.m. Anyway, this EP is by the blues guitarist and composer JP Reali (pronounced re ah li) and it is a set of two halves as they say, with rock ‘n’ roll first and then true blues of the quality of his Bottle of Blooze album from 2010. He is joined by another veteran of the US blues scene, Duke Levine, and a well-known and highly respected band to add some superb, solid backing to these five original compositions.

It opens with My Baby Loves To Boogie and, rather than Marc Bolan, the guitar intro is pure rock ‘n’ roll with serious swing; the guitars have an authentic yet modern sound that suits this perfectly and the piano jangles nicely to keep the dance floor feel and make sure you feel like joining in. The lap steel brings a new approach to the standard song this could have been…it’s a lot of fun and the guitar interplay throughout is a delight. The Ballad Of A Burglar is straight out of the Chuck Berry school of introductions but it is all saved by the slide guitar phrasing that appears occasionally and the inventive picked guitar solo followed by an equally inventive piano outing. Next we get a fascinating take on the blues a la Woody Guthrie who invented ‘dust bowl’ folk-blues…he may be a ‘difficult listen’, but Woody really knew how to write a song of depth and feeling and anyone who can write a song of the quality of Vigilante Man deserves to be heard and paid tribute to as JP does here. A Highway Cruise is electric blues with organ and slide guitar evening sounding a little southern. The solos, both guitar and organ, are the highlight of a song that carries a serious message behind the clever melodies. Blues For Casey takes us to, in my opinion, the area of JP’s greatest strength…predominately acoustic blues this time with a hint of bluegrass, which is a clever medium to set a song about the US administration and its err, peccadilloes. If you want to understand the politics of the US, this a damn good place to start! The mandolin and washboard feel is simply great to listen to and the guitars, harp and piano are spot on too. We stay in the country blues area as the closing track, Whiskey For Blood and the picked acoustic and dobro work here make this the best track by far for me. It is full of all kinds of great blues references…plus a mandolin solo, heartfelt harp, excellently empathetic piano, bass and drums added to that dobro…I love this track!

This is a slightly difficult one, to sum up…the first two tracks are very good examples of rock ‘n’ roll but, me being me when I heard the true blues that I knew JP is capable of I wanted more of that side of his work. So I will be regularly revisiting the blues and only occasionally the r’n’r. Still, if you like both the genres then this is a fine example of them both.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. My Baby Loves To Boogie
  2. The Ballad Of A Burglar
  3. A Highway Cruise
  4. Blues For Casey
  5. Whiskey For Blood

All compositions by JP Reali

Musicians:

JP Reali: guitars, vocals

Duke Levine: guitars, vocals

Kevin Barry: lap steel, dobro

Jim Haggerty: bass

Mark Teixeira: drums

Dennis Brennan: harmonica

Tom West: paino, organ

(iTunes run on time and I had a reminder of JP Soars fine album from last year as Ain’t No Dania Beach from his Southbound I-95 album came southern rocking from the dock.)

JP Reali shares A Highway Cruise

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