Out Here In the Blue with Lara and the Bluz Dawgz

Wife and husband team, Lara and Gregg Germony have their third offering under the Lara and the Bluz Dawgz moniker on release called Out Herein the Blue. Going down the original composition route again, they present eleven new tracks steeped in the blues and jazz genres that all of the band have been marinated in over their long and varied careers. (Their last album, Howlin’, is also reviewed here on Bluesdoodles). This time out, those jazz and blues constructs are tempered with some swing and soul to vary the rhythm and feel of the album.

The tight playing the band has developed shines through: Reggie Murray envelops every song with warm sax while the engine room of Gregg on bass and Carlos Ruiz on drums ensures the beat is always solid, and the excellent phrasing brought by guitarist Al Rowe lightens the less immediate tracks. That is all capped off by the vocal prowess of Lara; she may not be the most powerful singer out there, but the emotion and colour she brings to the songs draws you in regardless.

Opening track, Easy Come, Easy Go illustrates perfectly a band in harmony of purpose. It is a light blues, with superb production values; every instrument can be heard and the piano, which could be lost in some studios, shines across the whole song and the solo is perfect. We also get the first taste of that phrasing I mentioned from Al, with his understated but really well-played solos. It isn’t a groundbreaker by any means, but it is a solid start for the album. Do What You Do is a slower take on an archetypal blues, with its warm and comfortable riff. Lara convinces with her wordsmithery and delivery while Al excels again. The sax solo to the fade adds to the warmth and doesn’t overplay or overstay its welcome. The organ opens behind the sax on the title track, which is a soulful blues full of the pain of loss. Al does it again on this one, and his interpretation of the words through the fretboard makes this my favourite, by a mile. Catch Me If You Can has the best bass line of the album as it quietly talks and takes command, while the rest of the band are allowed to shine. Walk Away is an R’n’B style blues redolent with the riff from the Ian Gillan Band track, Apathy (from the Scarabus album). The sax and the guitar are very different and once the vocal comes in, it has its own identity, although it’s in my mind and won’t let go! Smoke Break has piano and organ barreling away over a Batman bass riff. This instrumental outing gives all the guys a turn and has horns too, which I guess, is courtesy of Reggie too. It is a pleasing three minutes of fun. Love Slips Away takes us back to slow burning soulful blues with Lara pouring the emotion on and out. The sax is a little intrusive at times, but the guitar solo is another object lesson in blues playing. Where You Been ups the pace again with a swing in the bass line and drumming. The guitar is the star again for me, although the horns do warm up some sections and the sax solo is back to balanced. Custom Made starts off like ZZ Top wound down a bit before it changes into a blues standard pattern. The piano is a delight on this one as it pours joy out of the speakers. Moonlight takes us back to the soul of the 60s with the delivery of the vocals and the instrumentation. This could have graced the charts with many of the chartreuses of the period. It is well done but is a bit too clichéd for my tastes, I’m afraid. It all wraps up in fine boogie style with Wrong Question as Lara really stamps her authority on this one. Guess what?… Al plays another blinder on this one, as his solo once again explores the sounds and feel of the guitar.

 

There is nothing new or earth shattering on this collection: what you do get is a solid album of impeccably played and soulful blues and you can share a plethora of emotions with Lara and the band. The only downside really is that, as good as this band are, they don’t stand out above a lot of others: it is still a damn good, easy to listen to the album and it will remain on my iPod and not suffer the skip button even if I rarely seek it specifically. The big bonus for a guitar-centric person like me is that, as a lover of top drawer, sparse blues guitar, I love the way the guitar contributes so much; be it as a background or in the numerous subtle solos, which prove there are more frets and strings than some players seem to think.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Do What You Do
  2. Out Here in the Blue
  3. Catch Me If You Can
  4. Walk Away
  5. Smoke Break
  6. Love Slips Away
  7. Where You Been
  8. Custom Made
  9. Moonlight
  10. Wrong Question

Musicians:
Lara Germony: vocals
Gregg Germony: bass
Al Rowe: guitar
Dan Nadasi: keyboards
Carlos Ruiz: drums
Reggie Murray: saxophone

Released on the Lock Alley Music Label
Recorded at the Song Closet in Nashville
Produced by Gregg Germony and Jim Schacher

Out Here In the Blue with Lara and the Bluz Dawgz

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