Vin Mott stocks and shares Rogue Trader

For a man who graduated from college with a BA in songwriting and the drums as his principle instrument, comes the second album of harmonica-led blues…yes, Vin Mott took drum lessons from the age of seven and is no slouch on them, but he discovered the blues harp early on and it is the instrument that stole his heart. All of this is good news for harp lovers as Vin has crafted a dozen, varied blues songs and, backed by a quality band, he supplies a menu of blues served with cornbread, chicken, honey and beer. Unsurprisingly, given his degree, Vin has written all of the songs, arranged them and then he and the band recorded them together in the studio…the way it should be with each member ‘feeding off’ the other to create a live sound, rather than emailing their parts in.

If the blues demand a degree of suffering, then Vin’s came from automotive breakdowns as the opening track, Car Troubles Made Me A Good Blues Singer attests. This is a shuffle with great guitar work and, of course, plenty of harp…fortunately, it is harp of the controlled and crafted variety that plays off the melody rather than squealing for the sake of it, as some do. The sparse guitar chords are genius when you listen closely too and the picked solo is very Berry in his more laid-back songs, but with a little more invention. Vocally, Vin is more than capable with a solid blues, tinged with soul, mature sounding voice. A shuffle of a different source heralds the Chicago blues of Give Me Cornbread; this has the feel of many blues standards but that is OK when it plays nicely as this does; the harp and guitar are in synch and the bass and drums are solid behind it all. The harp solo is restrained and the better for it as Vin takes some of the basic riff and melody phrases and turns them into an entertaining piece. The guitar solo this time takes the same cues and does a Hank on them. Title track, Rogue Hunter, gives us a false start and on the second attempt we get a reworking of Roadrunner with verse structure and the slide echoing that song. The slide is great as it is purposely loose and this, along with the tone, gives an authentic old blues feel in this update. Any audience fortunate enough to see this band will, no doubt, join the shout, rather than sing, a-long chorus of Ice Cold Beer after bouncing along with the verse and ascending/descending guitar parts. A blues drinking song that fits with its predecessors quite nicely, although as I am writing this at eleven in the morning sans alcohol, the chorus is a bit much! A change of pace and feel as we move into the country with the double entendre filled Honey…I just need a horse and a posse to fit right in. It’s not a brilliant song, but you just can’t help joining in the sway of the song and either grin or cringe at some of the clever smut! (I was grinning all the way through, by the way). The next one takes us up in pace and back in time with a fabulous blues replete with slinky slide, an upright bass and some great harp work…therefore my favourite by far is Whistlin’ By The Graveyard for all of those reasons. Slow blues, piercing harp and suitably dirty guitar back the torrid tale of Paterson is Crumblin’. Paterson is apparently an area of high crime and abandoned buildings in North New Jersey, but could easily be transposed for many areas in many towns in many countries…it is a powerful song with a clever guitar piece that defies explanation…because it shouldn’t work, but it does…brilliantly; as does the plaintive harp solo that echoes like the wind around those deserted buildings. I Got Blues On My Mind is a slice of true R’n’B with a sound that makes me think the great Wolf Pack had a hand in it. Once again the guitar fits the mood and the atmosphere and the harp solo is paced perfectly with Vin harmonizing with himself on one harp! Countin’ On Them Chickens ups the pace again with another classic blues structure but all is forgiven with the whole band’s performance. It sounds old, but injects such passion, especially the harp, that all is forgiven.  Another familiar feel is apparent on the ballad like Fire To Your Flame…this is the sort of soul song that would have been on the radio in the early 60s with its Sam Cook soulful leanings…the harp does differentiate it and adds to the overall effort but, although a neat little song, this is the only one I will probably skip. My faith is restored, although that’s perhaps not the best phrase for a song called Please Mr. Devil…this is a great piece of funereal Nawleans blues with the lyrics suggesting Vin would like to emulate Robert Johnson in the trading of his soul. The song has everything this kind of blues needs…subtle guitar, a talking harp, and the snare rolls fit the mood brilliantly. Final track, Greaser, takes all of its cues from the surf chords of Link Wray. The band conjures up an instrumental that with the added surf sounds from the cymbals and the brilliant and empathetic harp throughout, make this a slow paced delight.

This is a great blues album, particularly for harp lovers; it may not break new ground, but then it’s the blues and Vin’s interpretations have the qualities that make the familiar sound new and the well-worn sound comfortable. The band is a solid and capable backing for the harp that never overplays or overstays…it’s a welcome addition to the collection and one I will return to regularly.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Car Troubles Made Me A Good Blues Singer
  2. Give Me Cornbread
  3. Rogue Hunter
  4. Ice Cold Beer
  5. Honey
  6. Whistlin’ By The Graveyard
  7. Paterson Crumblin’
  8. I Got The Blues On My Mind
  9. Countin’ On Them Chickens
  10. Fire To Your Flame
  11. Please, Mr. Devil
  12. Greaser


All tracks written and arranged by

Vin Mott

Musicians:

Vin Mott: vocals, harmonica

Dean Shot: guitar

Steve Kirsty: bass

Matt Niedbalski: drums

Vin Mott stocks and shares Rogue Trader

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