Album Reviews

Reed Turchi - Tallahatchie

tallahatchie

 

A man sitting on a floor playing blues, it cannot be any more simpler than that. After last year's splendid release of his best album to date, Speaking In Shadows, the American guitarist and singer/songwriter Reed Turchi returns to his first love, the blues, through his new, acoustic album called Tallahatchie.

The album is a total stripped-down one and pays tribute to one of the biggest, most inspirational music fonts ever for the American artist and his love, in particular, for the Mississippi HIll Country Blues. Turchi has always been throughout his career and still is, a musician whose genuinity and artistic honesty has never been in discussion and Tallahatchie is no exception. Through this album, whose title is inspired by the name of the river that runs through North Mississippi, Reed Turchi pays a respectful homage to some of the fathers of the genre, like RL Burnside, "Otha" Turner and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

The choice of the songs covered by the delicate, still very intense sound of Turchi's slide guitar is well balanced. His vocals throughout the album are mostly whispered, like someone that wants to accentuate more the devotion and the significance of those songs for the artist himself, rather than trying to make his own stamp on them.

Turchi underlines beautifully, through the songs covered on Tallahatchie, the different sides of the artists he has decided to cover on this record. as, for example, RL Burnside's more funny side on the track Skinny Woman (...I don't want a skinny woman, her meat don't shake...All she ever do is to walk up and down) and the slightly darker one, as in the Turchi's beautiful rendition of Like A Bird Without A Feather (....Well, you know, sure as I shot my baby, but I did it because she did me wrong...).

There are many more and equally intense performances in Turchi's new album. It's definitely worth to mention two of Mississippi Fred McDowell's classics, You Got To Move and John Henry, both delivered by Turchi's voice and his slide guitar with the class and the charisma of a perfect Blues Troubadour.

Tallahatchie is an album that goes beyond the pure and simple love for the traditions of the Hill Country Blues. It's the most sincere labour of love possible of a musician that has never forgotten where his musical heart belongs to and always will.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tallahatchie is out now and can be purchased via Reed Turchi's Bandcamp Page

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Ronnie Baker Brooks - Times Have Changed

ronnie baker brooks

  

 

 

 

Records should be made and released just when it feels right for artists, not because they "need" to be done for contractual purposes. That is exactly the attitude and the philosophy of Chicago-born Guitar Master Ronnie Baker Brooks, who did not release a new record for almost a decade, since his 2006 album The Torch.

Throughout the last 10 years, touring and collaborating with fellow music artists and family life have been the main focus for Baker Brooks. Still, this phenomenal guitarist and singer/songwriter had, on the back of his mind, the will to release new material and perhaps, it was just a matter of having the right things happening at the right time.

A new record contract with Mascot/Provogue and working with one of the most talented producers worldwide, Steve Jordan, were exactly what Baker Brooks needed to push himself to get back to the studio and working on a new album.

Recorded in Memphis and Nashville, Times Have Changed, Ronnie Baker Brook's new album, shows an artist in fabulous form, combining original material that he had written through the last ten years with some excellent covers of artists like Joe Tex, Curtis Mayfield, Robert Cray and Alvin Cash, amongst others.

Baker Brooks, for his comeback to the music scene, has certainly taken full advantage of the recording locations by calling some of his closest friends in the music business to help him delivering one of the most compelling albums of his career. The list of artists collaborating with Baker Brooks on this album is as impressive as the quality of his new record: Angie Stone, Steve Cropper, Baker Brook's father Lonnie, Eddie Willis, Todd Mohr, the late great Bobby "Blue" Bland, Felix Cavaliere, rapper Al Kapone and Lee Roy Parnell they all came to add their artistic skills on a very inspired record.

Every song on the album tells a different story with such pathos and intensity and it doesn't matter whether the story has been written by Baker Brooks himself or by other artists. Where the Guitar Maestro does not sing and leaves instead one of his fellow artists to do so, it's his guitar that does the talk on his behalf, exceptionally well.

Times Have Changed is an incredible time capsule. There are the soul vibes of the Stax and Motown period, touches of funk and R&B sounds coming from Paisley Park in Minneapolis, urban hip-hop and fragments of Chicago Blues, all hidden in Baker Brook's contemporary vision of musical globalization.

It's frankly difficult to frame one or two songs out of such a splendid musical kaleidoscope. The album's title-track is one of the best songs Baker Brooks has ever written. His idea of creating a melting pot of hip-hop and blues, something that this artist has already successfully achieved on previous records, it reaches another level on this tune, thanks also to a very inspired songwriting.

Robert Cray and Eric Clapon's version of Old Love, performed by Baker Brooks with Bobby "Blue" Bland prior to the music veteran's passing, is an authentic jewel and it's truly emotional to get to hear again Bland's dazzling voice combined with Baker Brook's heart-warming guitar sound.

Perhaps one of the most surprising tunes to be found on Times Have Changed is Joe Tex's cover of Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants. Enriched by the splendid support given by "Big Head" Todd Mohr on vocals and guitar and the great Eddie "Chank" Willis on guitar, the tune epitomises perfectly what Ronnie Barker Brook's music vision is all about. The work of a very talented music artist expressing a modern sound that embraces blues, soul, R&B of the past and present in a metaphorical sonic bridge.

Times Have Changed is Ronnie Baker Brook's ultimate musical statement on his artistry and his talent, not just as a guitarist but also as a songwriter. It is a record that manages so cleverly to carry the traditions of many different genres and transforming them in an unique, fresh and contemporary combo, still respecting though the genre's roots.

A very warm "Welcome Back" to a sumptuous, forward-thinking artist. Paraphrasing Baker Brook's album title, Times might Have Changed, but his class is still strongly there.

 

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Times Have Changed will be released worldwide on 20th January 2017 and can be ordered via  Mascot Label Group/Provogue

  

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Jeff Healey - Holding On: A Heal My Soul Companion

jeff healey holding on

 

Curious how sometimes, in the music industry, remarkable material comes to the surface just after an artist's passing. Jeff Healey's Heal My Soul had been already one of the biggest and most welcomed surprises of a tumultous year for music like 2016, therefore, the announcement of a further release, Holding On: A Heal My Soul Companion brought an even bigger smile on the faces of not only those that loved Jeff Healey's artistry but to everyone that loves music of the finest quality unconditionally. Because this is indeed a very fine record.

Where Heal My Soul had finally brought to the light of the day some original, undiscovered (until now) gems written and played by the Canadian Guitar Virtuoso, Holding On.. shows instead different sides of Healey's enormous talent, as a songwriter and as a live performer. While the 5 Heal My Soul studio outtakes opening the album are an ulterior statement of Healey's artistry, the live performance recorded in Oslo in 1999 is the undisputed centrepiece of the whole record.

Between the outtakes included in Holding On.. Love Takes Time and Dancing With The Monsters shine in all their beauty and intensity certainly more than the others. Love Takes Time sees Healey pushing heavily on the rock pedal, though still maintaining a great balance between melody, quality of lyrics and the magic of his guitar sound, a sound that is strong and passionate exactly like the Canadian artist's personality. Dancing With The Monsters, although maintaining a solid rock vibe, it's more rootsy and allows Healey not just to display once again his unmistakable class as a guitarist but also his incredible voice, something that, in Yours Truly's opinion, has never been underlined and appreciated enough by the media throughout Healey's career.

Roger Costa, Healey's official archivist, has done once again a stellar job in bringing back to the surface some of the most glorious moments of the Canadian artist's career. The live performance present on Holding On... is a true masterclass in music. Healey does not just sound as powerful and inspired as he has ever been, in this recording, but also very happy, relaxed and amiable as ever.

To be able to select few tracks out of this memorable live performance is a titanic task. Healey always played anything that he wanted in his live concerts and this one is no exception. His cover versions of Robert Johnson's Dust My Broom, The Beatle's Yer Blues or How Blue Can You Get, a song that became one of BB King's signature pieces at his concerts, are truly outstanding. Even when Healey indulges himself by covering Stealers Wheel's classic Stuck In The Middle With You and The Champ's Tequila, he never loses track of his craftmanship and his ability as a guitarist and as a singer.

The temperature of the live performance, though, raises two notches when Healey is playing his own material. The semi-acoustic delivery of Macon Georgia Blue is so superbly crafted that the whole song feels like a blast of fresh air in the hottest night. Undoubtedly, one of the highest moments in Healey's career as a lyricist and as a performer.

The live version of Holding On, at the time of this recording still unreleased, encapsules perfectly the whole essence of Healey's creativity. There is wilderness, style, soul, once again excellent songwriting and bags of talent on guitar. Healey, vocally, has never sounded live on stage any better than this. The closing See The Light, one of Healey's biggest hits in his incredible career, feels a bit like a messianic ritual for all of Healey's fans. The Canadian artist is literally unstoppable. The power of his guitar sound resonates in the Norwegian skies like a rocket flying at the speed of light, the right conclusion to an utterly superb concert.

Holding On: A Heal My Soul Companion is a record that make us all miss even more the class and the talent of a true musical genius like Jeff Healey, taken away from life far too soon. His attitude, his personality, his versatility as an artist still speak to the hearts and souls of thousands of people now as much as when Healey was still with us. Human gifts that even death cannot take away from us all.

 

 

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding On: A Heal My Soul Companion is out now and can be ordered via Mascot Label Group

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Mike Zito - Make Blues Not War

mike zito mbnw

 

 

It's hard to believe that 2017 will mark 20 years of Mike Zito into the music business. His 1997 debut album Blue Room seems such a distant memory, still, that was an album that sounded so fresh back then as it does now.

Perhaps there are no real secrets about the power of longevity of any of Mike Zito's albums, because every body of work that he produces it comes from the heart and soul of an intelligent, articulated and, most importantly, incredibly talented artist.

These last 5 years have seen Zito reaching a success after another. His 2013's highly acclaimed album Gone To Texas saw him soaring high again in the blues charts worldwide, then came that very inspired and successful music project called Royal Southern Brotherhood until 2015, when the American Blues Hero decided to leave the Brotherhood and dedicate himself to write one of the most poignant and personal album of his music career called Keep Coming Back.

In a spectacular year of blues music releases as 2016 has been, Zito couldn't miss the opportunity to make another of his unique musical statements by releasing his brand new album called Make Blues Not War. This is a record that sees an artist so much at ease with himself and his music that the whole music offers that comes through Mike Zito's new album take a full advantage of the artist's current state of mind, giving to the record a phenomenal leap forward.

Through Make Blues Not War,  the American Guitar Maestro takes the listeners to a complete musical journey through all the places where he lived, the music he grew up with and his all-time Music Heroes. His lyrics are sharp and muscular, exactly as it is his guitar and they are a true reflection of the positive moment of the life and career Zito is living right now.

Recorded completely live in Nashville, in true Zito's style, with producer, co-writer and also drummer on the record Tom Hambridge, Make Blues Not War draws a complete circle of Zito's artistry. There is the blues, there's the rock, the boogie, even touches of soul on this sparkling and beautifully constructed record.

Highway Mama, the album's opener, is a clear homage to Freddie King's style with echoes of 70's rock of the early Zeppelin. Zito is absolutely devastating on guitar and so is one of his old fellow music friends and role models Walter Trout, special guest on this song that feels like a runaway train of blues/rock of the finest level.

Make Blues Not War, as previously mentioned, is a statement in music of everything that inspired and still inspire Mike Zito's artistry. There are traces of Stevie Ray Vaughan in Redbird, one of the most fascinating and inspired songs of the whole album. Zito and his thunderous Rhythm Section made by Hambridge on drums and Tommy MacDonald on bass offer a touch of their musical chemistry and extravaganza by totally improvising the closing part of the tune on the spot and lifting the whole tune by an extra notch through the last 90 seconds of the song.

Another fine moment of this really majestic album comes from the record's title-track Make Blues Not War. Zito's heart beats at the same rhythm of this tune, a tune that brings fond memories of the late great Muddy Waters. Having said that, though, the mood, the energy of the tune, umistakebly, musically and lyrically, is all about Zito.

The Guitarist and Singer/Songwriter does not just fully respect his music heroes but also the places in America that so much influenced his eclectic background. There are clear Chicago Blues vibes on tracks like Wasted Time and Chip Off The Block, (the latter seeing also the music debut of Zito's son Zach on guitar), or the raucous boogie sounds of cities like St. Louis (One More Train) and New Orleans (Route 90).

There are two songs of the album deserving a special mention, only because they portray beautifully Zito's scintillating music form and deep understanding of the blues at 360 degrees. Girl Back Home is vintage Zito, through a phenomenal performance on slide guitar on this Americana style tune while Road Dog, a highly emotive blues ballad, sees once again Zito's unique capacity to tell tales of the hard life on the road in a way that very few artist of the current blues generation are able to do.

Make Blues Not War is an album that, despite being recorded with Zito's traditional immediacy, it's executed with high brilliancy by every musician present on the album. Together with Hambridge and MacDonald, Kevin Mckendree on piano, wurlitzer and clavinet does a stellar job throughout the whole album and also Jason Ricci, another special guest of the album, provides a very fine musical support on harmonica on a couple of the songs of the album.

Last but not least, there is Mike Zito's voice. A voice that can be sometimes passionate, hard, raucous but it can also become warm, softer, more gentle, still carrying all the values and cores of a true bluesman through and through like Zito is.

"I am a Road Dog, All I ever do is live", is what Zito sings in one of the finest moments of an excellent record as the new Make Blues Not War is. A record that gives us music lovers the work of an artist at the top of his game and one of Zito's finest hours of his whole career.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

 

Make Blues Not War is out now and it is available via Ruf Records

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Eddie Martin - Black, White And Blue

received 10154598298927160

 

 

Many have tried, through the years, to give a real definition of what "Living The Blues" really means. Often, many fans or even music press have labelled the genre as one expressing sadness, loneliness, living tough times or going through rough patches in everyday's life.

The English Blues Maestro Eddie Martin has got a much more lucid and wider vision of what Blues and being a Bluesman is all about. His brand new album, called Black, White and Blue is a clear statement of how much, in Martin's eyes, the genre has been, and still is, the motherload for Black Music, Rock &Roll, Jazz, you name it.

Black, White and Blue is an entertaining, exciting, vibrant and irresistible record for many reasons. The album showcases an artist at the highest level of his musical ability in each of the 10 songs present on the record, no matter whether it's through Martin's harmonica, his Telecaster Custom or even his Slide Guitar.

Eddie Martin's songwriting is sharp, ironic at times, even mellow on a couple of songs but it's strong and written with intelligence and wittiness at the same time. Moreover, his storytelling is definitely miles away from the common stereotypes that expect Blues stories to be linked uniquely to sad aspects of human lives in various forms.

The one-two that open Black, White And Blue is pure dynamite. Mississippi Sound has got that unstoppable foot-stomping tempo typical of the great John Lee Hooker's style but executed by Martin and his Power Trio spectacularly well, with Martin's slide guitar sounding like heaven. Same goes for Angry, a tune with a strong rock influence, with Martin's lyrics as cut-throat (..politicians don't stand for what it's right...) as it is his thunderous Stratocaster guitar sound. A true highlight of the album.

The choice of the album title has not been casual for the English artist's new album. Black, White And Blue are the three colours through which Martin sees the way the Blues has confluenced itself into other music genres through the years and the record's title-track, through its clever pastiche of blues, rock and hillibilly, is the best way to sonically illustrate Martin's musical views.

One of the many aspects of Martin's talent is not just linked to his extraordinary ability as a musician but also to the maturity he has reached as a songwriter. Black, White And Blue is an album that sees an artist and a man sometimes struggling to understand the illogicality of politic or religion, as he so well does in the powerful closing tune of the album, It All Depends but also able to talk about love, as in the case of the splendid, soulful ballad I Choose You.

There are a couple of moments of the album which show a further and more funny angle of Eddie Martin as everyday life's perfect raconteur. Too Much Choice reflects on the irony of a modern society that offers media platforms to many and meaningless music genres, except the blues. It's a truly excellent tune, with a great funky feeling coming from a fabulous Rhythm Section made by Tom Gilkes on drums and Zak Ranyard on bass, a Section that sparks like a diamond, musically speaking, not just on this tune but throughout the whole album.

I've Lost My Phone is a sublime concentrate of swing, jazz and, most of all, the great intelligence of an artist that knows exactly when to take himself less seriously. The tune is about losing a mobile phone which means, in nowaday's lifestyle, the end of the world for many individuals. Where Martin's tone can be ironic in his lyrics, the musical structure of the whole track is first class.

Despite the variety of themes present on the album, there is a definite unity on Black, White And Blue. The Blues is the element that brings all together and the way that Martin balances all the different music tempos, moods and styles, is the work of a very inspired artist.

Eddie Martin is and has been an English National Treasure and Blues/Rock Institution for the last quarter of a century. Through this new record, the 10th studio album of his glorious career so far, Martin definitely chisels his ultimate musical masterpiece to date. Black, White And Blue is his First Class ticket for Blues Worldwide Excellence.

 

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

Black, White And Blue is out now and can be purchased via Eddie Martin's Official Website or via Amazon

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Nine Below Zero - 13 Shades Of Blue

nine below zero

 

 

The British Blues, R&B and Soul band Nine Below Zero is one of those very rare group of musicians able to travel through the music decades thanks to their unique music combo, without feeling the weight of changing times and fashions.

Formed in 1979, the collective created by two of the finest British musicians, Dennis Greaves on guitars and vocals and Mark Feltham on harp and vocals, saw the peak of their media popularity through the iconic 80's BBC TV Serie called The Young Ones, in which the band was regularly featured. The band built through the years, thanks also to the addition to the original line-up of the band of Mickey Burkey on percussion and Bryan Bethell on bass (plus touring bassist Ben Willis), a serie of remarkable commercial successes, from the epic 1980's Live At The Marquee's album until the more recent 2014's re-release of one of their most successful records, Third Degree.

Throughout the 35-plus years of Nine Below Zero's existence, many of the original band members left and then re-joined the collective from time to time. It took, though, the suggestion of one of Greaves & Co.'s good friends and Universal's catalogue man, Johnny Chandler to the band on making an album that would pay tribute to Blues and R&B, to generate new enthusiasm within the band and make possible that this eclectic group of musicians would enter the studio once again with their original line-up. It didn't take long for Nine Below Zero to think about paying tribute, through this new record, to their most favourite artists by playing their own personal cover versions of some of such artist's classics and hidden gems of their repertoires.

What came out of the band’s musical top hat is truly excellent. 13 Shades Of Blue, Nine Below Zero's new album, is a remarkable homage not just to the genres previously mentioned but also to the work of pioneers of genres like Funk and Cajun of the 50's and 60's.

For this exciting project, Nine Below Zero decided to call a generous number of fellow musicians to help them cutting the record in the studio, with a full array of instruments including a Horn section, violin, accordion, backing vocals and even an ukulele.

The sound of the British collective on this album is as sharp, powerful and cohesive as it has never been before, a clear sign of artistic maturity and high level of craftsmanship. Senior’s Soul classic  Don't Lay Your Funky Trip On Me is the perfect opening statement of the album, a tune that enhances the rich sounds and powerful vibes coming from the English collective’s great artistry.

Dennis Greaves is a truly fine guitarist, as repeatedly demonstrated through the whole band’s career and this new album is no exception. Little Milton’s That’s What Love Will Make You Do and B.B. King’s You’re Still My Woman display Greave’s ability in full swing, through two memorable guitar solos. As an added bonus to the record, his vocals too get better and better too, as the years go by.

Mark Feltham is an authentic Harp Virtuoso that has reached numerous by the worldwide music press and fellow musicians in his career, thanks to his great talent and his artistic background showcased through the last 4 decades of music, not just with Nine Below Zero but also by collaborating with artists such as Terrorvision, Dido, Oasis, Talk Talk, Joe Cocker and Roger Daltrey, just to mention few of the great acts Feltham has been working with in his career. His harmonica sound may fly like the speed of light in John Mayall’s classic Crawling Up A Hill or provide the ideal sonic carpet with his playing style for the whole band in It’s Your Voodoo Working.

As much as Greaves and Feltham’s artistry fully deserve to be underlined, it’s also true that those 13 tracks couldn’t sound as effective and well executed as they are without the support of the splendid group of musicians present on the album. Charlie Austen on vocals gives great justice to Aretha Franklin’s Don’t Play That Song and Stephen Large on Piano does a very fine job too, on the same tune.

Bryan Bethell and Ben Wallis on bass are the engine of a spotless rhythm section of a band that emanates energy and class throughout the whole album. When it comes the time to close an album in style, Nine Below Zero never fail to deliver the task. Allen Touissant's Hercules perhaps doesn't pack the same punch on the vocals as much as previous versions of this track as other artists have made, like Boz Scaggs or Aaron Neville, for example. Still, the band plays at their finest, with the Horn section of Chris Rand, Adam Davey, Tom Waters and Jazzy Jeffery Brown shining through the whole song with a masterful performance.

The closing track is pure loudness and fun, in true Nine Below Zero style.  Boozoo Chavis's Paper In My Shoe is finely executed by a band, once again, in splendid form, with Greaves launching himself even in singing few lines of the tune in French language, adding a sprinkle of extra fun to the collective's sound.  

13 Shades Of Blue is a record that shows a band expressing class, energy, creativity and respect for their music heroes without taking any heavy license at all off the original versions. Still, the vibes that Nine Below Zero exude are perfectly recognisable, thanks to a trademark sound that has accompained the band for their entire career. A career that just gets better and better with each passing record.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

13 Shades Of Blue is out now and it is available via Nine Below Zero's Official Website

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

 

 

John Weeks Band - Dark Angel

dark angel

 

For years, there has been an unjustified rumour in the music business about how much blues artists are capable to play their instruments to perfection but constantly struggling to write great lyrics for their records.

Fortunately, as time goes by, more and more artists show every time, through their hard work and talent how untrue this is, by crafting marvellous albums full of catchy tunes, excellent songwriting and superb musicianship.

The second album of the John Weeks Band from Denver, Colorado called Dark Angel, is the full proof of how a group of skilled musicians can produce, by combining all together their many abilities, all the ingredients needed to create a record with great depth of quality as Dark Angel.

John Weeks, guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter of the band has been and still is one of the most respected blues musicians of the United States for the last couple of decades. Through the years, he has learned very well how to bring the blues to a new level, by adding elements of swing, jazz and even particles of 70's rock in the already rich and sumptuous sound produced by Weeks and his band.

It's a record where every musician, within the band, has the space to shine and let it loose when the tune allows it, without overshadowing his fellow musicians but just enriching the band's sound even more through their individual skills.

Dark Angel is a finely played album, full of groove and some swagger too. Weeks has got the luxury to have many songwriters in his band, to help him out building a highly entertaining record like this.

Danny Haynes on keyboards and vocals is a true revelation. His songwriting is inspired, his vocals crisp and his work on keyboards an authentic joy to listen to. Stacey Turpenoff helps out as well on the songwriting but when it comes to singing, she is certainly The Lady in the John Weeks Band's house. Her vocal deliveries are terrific and Turpenoff is able to deliver either joy and playfulness, like in the song Devil In My House or intense, deep emotions, like in that splendid ballad that is The Blues Just Got More Blue, thanks to her soulful, powerful voice .

The new John Weeks Band's album delivers many wonderful musical moments. Impossible is a delicate semi-acoustic tune, perfectly executed by a band in stratospheric form. A separate mention deserves How Can You Love Me?, a slow tempo blues tune that exemplify the most the fluidity of sound of this tried-and-true music machine. Stephen Whitfield on bass and Robert Fiorino on drums work in perfect synchronicity with one another. Week's guitar solo on this tune is absolutely outstanding. Danny Hayne's work on piano is, again, top notch and Stacey Turpenoff's singing style is smooth like the sweetest of caresses.

Dark Angel is an excellent record and musically, a vast step forward in comparison to the band's debut album. The John Weeks Band shows all the positive signs of a band destined to a great future in the music business.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

Dark Angel is out now and it is available via John Weeks Band Official Website

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Mississippi Heat - Cab Driving Man

cab driving man

 

 

When in 2014 the album Warning Shot by the Chigaco-based collective Mississippi Heat reached the top of the Blues Charts of half of the world, that moment can be remembered as a very significant one not just for the band but for the whole Blues community.

The success of that album was the clear sign that the Blues genre was definitely migrating and transforming itself to something bigger and bolder, still maintaining its roots deep down in those sounds and vibes that have made this genre the most pivotal one in music history ever.

Mississippi Heat's new album, Cab Driving Man, has not just carried the robust vibes and tones of its 2014's predecessor but has even improved the overall sound of the band by bringing it to a new level, thanks to the phenomenal talent of each individual member and the inspired songwriting and musical vision of Mississippi Heat's harpist and band leader Pierre Lacocque.

Throughout the sixteen songs included in Cab Driving Man, the band showcases an artistic maturity of rare beauty. A beauty that transpires every step of the way in an irresistible tracklist that combines the Blues roots of the band with elements of boogie, R&B, funk and latin rhythms in a truly, explosive musical package.

Pierre Lacocque, together with being one of the best harpist worldwide, is also a great connoisseur of talents, when he spots one. He must have certainly spotted so many of them, during his 25 years of career in the music industry and the current line-up of the band is no exception. Inetta Visor is an incredible and versatile singer, capable to show a phenomenal vocal artillery with elegance and class many times throughout the album, like in the jazzy Life Is Too Short, in the wonderfully executed Sarah Vaughan's cover of Smooth Operator or in the unstoppable vocal performance in the funky-spiced Icy Blue.

The talent flies high everywhere in this magnificent Big Band. Brian Quinn on bass and Kenny Smith on drums are an electrifying rhythm section, Chris Cameron on piano and keys is an outstanding musician and Michael Dotson, guitarist and singer/songwriter, is a true genius.

Pierre Lacocque has certainly assembled not just one of the finest group of musicians worldwide, within the band but has also chiseled some of the best songs he has ever written in his career. Music Is My Life has got such a passion that doesn't just transpire through his lyrics but also through a superb performance on vocals by Inetta Visor and Chris Cameron on piano. Lacocque tinges every song of the album with the intense vibes emerging by his Harmonica, providing an ideal music blanket to the already vibrant sound of Mississippi Heat. The work on Harmonica of the Belgian/American artist is truly superb in the ballad Mama Kaila, one of the many highlights of a very refined and well crafted album.

The closing track of the album, the instrumental Hey Pipo!, incorporates the whole spirit of the Mississippi Heat's artistic message. Three minutes of pure entertainment, beautifully executed, with a superb interplay of all the musicians showcasing, once again, the calibre of their immense craftmanship in this free-form tune.

Cab Driving Man is an album that travels to the pace and the grace of a feather swirling gently in the music skies, thanks to the phenomenal twists and turns that Lacocque and his band have designed on this superb album. In the album's sleeve notes, Lacocque says that "An aIbum is a passport, it gives you opportunity to keep growing and travelling". Cab Driving Man is certainly Mississippi Heat's passport for music heaven.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

Cab Driving Man is out now and it is available via Delmark Records

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Painting Rockets - From The Debris EP

 from the debris

Scotland's Painting Rockets are an impressive post-punk pop duo fronted by guitarist/keyboardist Stephen Christie along with vocalist Keli Thomson. They initially came together back in 2014 and have recently released their latest EP titled, From The Debris. It's musically loaded and packed with exciting punk and post/punk sounds.

The band’s sonic approach mainly gravitates towards seminal post-punk, specifically bands like PIL. They don't pull any punches, their sound heavily coated with jagged rhythm guitars played against programmable drums and elegant synths.

Often, inexperienced minimalistic duos can often end up sounding very raw and sparse. Not the case here.The two sole members of this duo more than make up for any potential and casual lapse in musical conversation by their adept use of sonic time and space. In the end we are left with a full and lavish production that is as impressive sonically as it is musically.

The opener, I’ll Be Fine,kicks off with a way cool lo-fi efx patch; then,with guitars quickly leading into PIL territory. Propelling drum patch drives the song throughout. As we approach the climax we are treated to a very affective vocal crescendo. Christie and Thompson truly knows how to start off an album.

Christie and Thompson as musicians, competently communicate a distinct and eloquent musical language; their songs at times incorporating an ethereal dynamic. One example of this is the third song, Empathy. Christie’s sequenced synth’ line at the intro is at once followed by sharp, rugged guitar.Then, without warning we are treated to a totally unexpected drop-of-a-dime halt; immediately followed by a soothing atmospheric keyboard break. A challenging and very well executed track.

Throughout the album the Scottish band displays their versatility in a myriad of ways. On the song,Paranoid, we are immediately confronted  with an ominous keyboard patch which swiftly takes us into parts unknown. Minimalistic, even avant-garde to some degree. This is a pleasant change-up on this all instrumental piece and displays the band’s boldness with regards to taking chances and the willingness to step out. Yes, the feeling of Paranoia ensues, thanks to clever instrumentation and a tune which would certainly fit well onto the soundtrack of nearly any film.

The closer, The Chaos Is All So Beautiful, shows the softer side of the duo. In this instance the sound and vibe is overtly melancholic; bringing to mind bands like The Velvet Underground who were memorable for 2-chord compositions such as this.

Painting Rockets, like the best punk/post-punk/new wave bands produce short-mini- sweet pop ditties that are well composed and performed. The vocals are muscular yet sensitive and emotive. Although there are times when the lyrics are indecipherable this only adds an element of mystique and charm to their material.

From The Debris is a mature and very solid second outing for a band that seems very confident in the musical direction they are headed towards.

 

 

 

Marc C. Cancassi

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Debris is out now and available via Bandcamp

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

 

 

 

 

Mat Walklate & Paolo Fuschi - Kicking Up The Dust

kicking up the dust

 

It's very refreshing to hear, in a stage of blues history like this, where the genre is evolving in many different ways, the fact that artists like Mat Westlake and Paolo Fuschi decide instead to stick to the traditions, by releasing an album that is a touching tribute the the sound of the Chicago Blues of the late 40's and the 50's.

Their new, entirely acoustic new album called Kicking Up The Dust, purposely recorded in a lo-fi style in order to adhere to the meaning of their musical message, simply by using Westlake's harmonica and Fuschi's guitar, is a well-crafted portray of blue's deepest roots. It's a record that brings back the song's format back in a time and a place where the intensity of a tune was simply defined by an artist, his instrument and his voice.

Kicking Up The Dust sees Walklate & Fuschi re-interpreting in their own ways some well-known classics of the genre, by adding unexpected touches of brilliancy and variation to the songs present on the album, like the foot-stomping opener Ain't No Big Deal On You or Bobo Jenkin's phenomenal version of Nothin' But Love.

Both musicians showcase an excellent artistic background and tons of musical skills. Walklate's harmonica style has got class and finesse written through and through and his work on Derrick Morgan's classic Fat Man is a true testimony of Walklate's talent. His vocals are deep, delivered with such a style and charisma that bring back echoes of a young Elvis Presley.

Paolo Fuschi is a highly skilled guitarist and his eclectic style allows himself to shine numerous times in the album. Take, for example, Fuschi's guitar solo on Goin' Down Slow, where the Italian artist, thanks to his instinct and his craftmanship, pens the most perfect intermezzo possible for this tune.

Walklate and Fuschi's interplay is pitch perfect and awe inspiring and runs deep through the whole album. The best example of such perfection can be heard in the only original tune of the record written by both the artists called Don't You Know Me, a song that sums very well the level of artistry of this formidable duo.

Kicking Up The Dust is a record that keeps on giving right to the end. Lightnin' Hopkins version of Black Cat Bone is one of the true peaks of this record for intensity and brilliancy from the two artists and the medley of The Technique's Oh Babe (Sick And Tired) and Don Drummond's Man In The Street magically combine elements of ska and blues of the highest level, thanks to Fuschi and Walklate's ability and versatility.

This record is a beautiful, full immersion in the purity of the blues, performed by two artists with a great level of knowledge, understanding, appreciation and great respect for an ageless genre like this. A truly inspired album and, without a doubt, a career defining moment for these two talented musicians.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

Kicking Up The Dust is out now and it is available via the artist's Official Website

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Fabrizio Poggi - Texas Blues Voices

texas blues voices

 

There are not many blues and gospel music fans left in the world that do not know the story of the Italian Harmonica Blues Maestro and music writer Fabrizio Poggi. This incredible artist discovered his great passion and love for the instrument since a very young age, making him, through the years, one of the most revered and respected musicians both by music fans and fellow artists.

Poggi has always been and still is, throughout his career, one of the most prolific recording artists ever. Between solo albums and side projects (the latest being Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo), the Italian artist has released 19 albums until now. It comes without saying that Album No. 20, Texas Blues Voices, had to be really something special and it most certainly is.

The Italian artist's brand new album is a fabulous tribute to those unique blues vibes coming from the great state of Texas, a place that so much has given and still does to this genre in the last half a century. It's a homage at 360 degrees to some of Texas' most fabulous singers, guitarists and musicians in general.

Recorded in about 10 days in Austin, Texas, the record assembles a stellar cast of singers and multi-instrumentalist artists, which often play a part in each other's songs, either by providing backing vocals or playing an instrument in general, in short, a total and great Team effort. Poggi's Harmonica, as always, provides a genuinely fabulous sonic blanket to all songs, either originals o traditionals, performed by each artist, through Poggi's great class and ability as a musician.

To find one or two highlights on such a well-balanced album, so beautifully sang and played is a mammouth task. The level of quality of every Special Guest's performance on each song reaches peak of truly, sheer perfection. Carolyn Wonderland's vocals on the album's opener on Blind Willie Johnson's classic Nobody's Fault But Mine are first class and her work on guitar is equally remarkable. The same can be said about that fabulous artist that is Mike Zito and his rendition of Muddy Waters and Bernard Roth's Forty Days And Forty Nights, where the Texan blues/rocker's deliver is absolutely pitch perfect.

Poggi has chosen an array of fantastic musicians to provide the right sounds and rhythms to each of the Guest Artists present on Texas Blues Voices. Bobby Mack and Joe Forlini on guitars, Cole El-Saleh on piano and organs, Dony Wynn on drums and Donnie Price on bass guitar are a sublime Music Machine to listen to and their artistry and individual skills are second to none.

Every song constitutes a different vibe, a different journey in the history of blues. To hear perhaps the youngest sounding 86-years-old artist in the world, Lavelle White, who has sang in her career with giants of the blues like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin amongst others, singing a song she wrote about her roots with such intensity and pathos is truly emotional.

Each Special Guest leaves a strong, emotional impact on Texas Blues Voices; Ruthie Foster's version of Ruth and Brownie McGhee's Walk On is one of the most soulful versions ever heard of this great classic and on the same tune, the work of Mack and Forlini on guitars is an unmissable treat for the ears of any music fans. 

With all the emotions and the intensity pouring out from those songs present on Texas Blues Voices, Fabrizio Poggi's harmonica keeps working incessantly and beautifully in the background, helping to create that necessary balance that makes every song a bit more special, through his unmistakable style.

The Italian artist couldn't close a stellar album like this in a more perfect way than having Guy Forsyth performing with him a fabulous rendition of the traditional Run On. Poggi's Harmonica and Forsyth's superb job on vocals and National Reso-phonic combined together are an irresistible force of nature and the outcome is simply outstanding.

Texas Blues Voices is an album that screams talent, passion, and most of all, unconditional love for the blues. At the same time, it is a splendid record that deservely rewards Fabrizio Poggi for his talent, his belief and his perseverance in carrying the torch of tradition and history that only a music genre like the blues has in its DNA.

"I guess I gotta keep on walkin', no matter what, till I find my way", say the lyrics on one of the album's songs, Walk On. Fabrizio Poggi will keep on walking with the blues for the rest of his life and we cannot be more thankful for that.

 

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

 

 

 

Texas Blues Voices is out now and available via Appaloosa Records

 

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Subcategories

  • Vinyl Spin

    New and classic vinyl reviews, including Record Store Day releases.

    Article Count:
    0

Out On The Tiles

Newport Folk Fest 2012: Brown Bird

"GOOD MORNING NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL!"brownbird 20120728_006

Rhode Island's own, Brown Bird, opened the Fort Stage, with a mix of folk to blues and a deep sense of soul vocals. MorganEve Swaine played the upright bass and cello, and introduced Dave who plays, "everything else!" There was a new mix of songs with fan familiar material, the cello pieces were beautiful and Dave offered up foot-pedal drums to accompany his electric guitar instrumentals.

Read more ...

 

Follow Bluebirdreviews for daily song posts, music reviews,

feature articles and interviews. 

LIKE US on Facebook

Find us on Google+

~ Follow the birdie on TWITTER ~

Remember to support your favorite artists through buying their products.

A good place to start is searching BestBuy.com and Amazon.com.

 

Maine Music News

Dont let the name fool you! Maine Music News provides live concert reviews and photography for shows throughout all of New England. Our photographers cover shows in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and anywhere else we can! Our writers provide detailed album reviews and expertly written interviews as well. We may be called Maine Music News, but we dont let the Maine border stop us!