Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stolen Hearts - Dirty Southern Soul

2015 – Stolen Hearts
By Phillip Smith; Nov 21, 2015

In 2014, Pam Taylor and Robert Johnson Jr. came together to forge a new musical dynamic duo, joined together in heart and on stage.  Hailing from the Carolinas, the music of Stolen Hearts’ debut album, Dirty Southern Soul is a wholesome blend of blues, jazz and folk rock.  Taylor and Johnson are both soulful vocalists and masterful guitarists.  Adding to the cool factor, Taylor was mentored by non-other than the renowned blues guitarist Debbie Davies.

“Carolina Days (Bootsie’s Song)” is a fresh splash of roots rock.  Johnson takes the lead on vox and tosses in smile-worthy mandolin playing, which adds quite a nice touch to the catchy guitar riffs. Taylor belts out the sax-infused heartbreaker “All I Got Left” in a most impressive way.  Her buttery vocals sound great.  Taylor delivers more exquisite vocals on “My Johnny”.  This one reminds me so much of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac with its light bouncy melody.  

Stolen Hearts take us on a trippy psychedelic journey in “Werewolves (Make Lousy Boyfriends)”.  Fuzzy guitar riffs and echo effects turn this space jam sung by Johnson into an instant favorite.  This twelve track album ends with a delightful live performance of the Etta James classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind”.

Stolen Hearts certainly embrace their creativeness, both lyrically and musically. Dirty Southern Soul is a tasty musical treat, indeed.


for more information on Stolen Hearts, visit their website :

Misssissippi Bigfoot - Population Unknown

2015 – Silver Tongue Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 21, 2015


Formed six months ago, in May of 2015, after a show at The Ground Zero Blues Club, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Mississippi Bigfoot is akin to lightning in a bottle.  They certainly have revealed to be the biggest musical surprise for me this year.  This Memphis-based band consists of lead vocalist Christina Vierra, lead guitarist Johnny Holiday, guitarist Ashley Bishop, drummer Doug McMinn, and bassist Cade Moore. Population Unknown is a stellar collection of nine boogie-infused, rocking blues songs, one of which is a phenomenal cover of “The Hunter”, first recorded by Albert King.    

Vierra’s vocals are powerful and soulful as she belts out the fabulous “Burn That Woman Down”.  Holiday has no shortage of tasty guitar licks as he plays this swampy favorite with true grit and conviction.  “Wag the Dog” is another killer tune.  This hard-driving song is a perfect storm of blues and rockabilly. McMinn slathers on a hefty helping of tasty harp, which sounds so cool running alongside the commanding voice of Vierra.

Mississippi Bigfoot breaks out the funk and delicious grooves in “No Flesh In OuterSpace”, a cosmic favorite.  Holiday and Vierra perform as a duet in the smoking hot “Clarksdale”, which pays homage to Robert Johnson’s legendary crossroads where deals with the devil are made.    

Mississippi Bigfoot nails every song with great writing and outstanding performances.  Population Unknown is such an enjoyable album from start to finish; I recommend it for anyone who loves great blues music.   

For more information on Mississippi Bigfoot, visit their website at

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown - The Devil to Pay

2015 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; Nov 14, 2015

The Devil to Pay, the latest from the legendary Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown is a monster set of thirteen all-new, original mojo-infused blues tunes.  Savoy Brown retains their exemplary three man lineup with bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm as Simmonds continues to lay down the law with his guitar and verse.    

Simmonds’ guitar oozes with heartfelt emotion as he explores the deep well of loneliness in “Ain’t Got Nobody”.  He then faces the harsh consequences of infidelity in the title track “The Devil to Pay”, a rambling blues tune with an old school Sun Records rockabilly vibe.  Simmonds rips it up with tremendous slide on “I’ve Been Drinking”.  While “Snakin’” is a nice instrumental to which one can sit back, relax and enjoy, the ominous “Evil Eye” pretty much begs to be turned up full blast so one can completely absorb the radiating guitar licks and badass bassline. This is one killer tune.

I really like this particular incarnation of Savoy Brown.  Simmonds, DeSalvo and Grimm sound so good together, and really know how to tap into that rawer, edgier sound so reminiscent of the early days of rock and roll. The Devil to Pay is a definite ‘keeper’.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Chloe Collins - 5 @ 15

2015 – Collins House Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 12, 2015


Listen to the new five song EP, 5 @ 15 by the New York recording artist Chloe Collins, and you’ll find yourself amazed at the sound of her voice.  Collins not only possesses an outstanding ability to sing, but this fifteen year old star shines brightly as a songwriter and guitarist too. Recorded at Grind Central Station in Nashville, and produced by Mikey Reaves, 5 @ 15 is a well-polished album of Country-Pop music.  Backing Collins on additional guitars and instruments is Reaves and Taylor Ivey.  

Breakup ballads, “All Over Again” and “My Goodbye” both have ‘radio-hit’ written all over them.  The music is fresh and catchy.  Collins takes to slightly darker waters with “New Nightmares”, a playful song about cutting lose and raising a little Hell. 

5 @ 15 will certainly resonate with Country-Pop fans all over.  A great voice and good songs make this one a fun little listen.  I look forward to hearing what Collins has in store for us in the future.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip - Ain’t Bad Yet

2015 – Hokahey! Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 7, 2015

Ain’t Bad Yet, the sixth album from Finnish blues-rock group Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip is an instant hit as far as I’m concerned.  The lineup of the band remains the same, featuring Bjorklof (vocals/harmonica/guitar), Lefty Leppänen(electric guitar/slide guitar), Teemu Vuorela(drums),  Seppo Nuolikoski(bass) and Timo Roiko-Jokela(percussion/malletkat).  Terrific songs and outstanding performances with a rich southern vibe are key to the allure of this album, which by the way is produced by legendary John Porter.

A saucy rhythm, joined with hot harmonica licks, spill all over “Rat Race”, a spectacular jammin’ favorite, reminiscent of one of my favorite bands, Phish.  I love the change of tempo when the band breaks into “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream”, a slightly spacy Hendrix-influenced treat.  Leppänen’s swampy slide guitar sounds so good on “Last Train to Memphis”, and “Today”.    

Catchy blues-filed hooks and a hard driving beat keep the anti-war anthem “Rain in Jerusalem” quite centered.  This is such a powerful song.  Bjorklof delivers funky vocals and sweet harmonica over a really cool little bass-line provided by Seppo on “Hold Your Fire Baby”.  Gritty blues sounds best with some cool harp. 

I dig the twangy “Blame It On the Bright Lights”, with its catchy back-beat.  John Porter steps in with guitar in hand and is joined by singers Lena Lindroos and Veera Railio. This song reminds me a lot of southern twangsters, Southern Culture on the Skids. I can’t help but feel good all over when I hear it.

Ain’t Bad Yet is a soulful blend of blues and country, making this eleven track album a refreshingly cool listen from start to end.  Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip definitely hit this one out of the park.  

Kinky Friedman - The Loneliest Man I Ever Met

2015 – Avenue A Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov 7, 2015

It’s been a long damn time since Kinky Friedman has released a new studio album.  To put it in a political perspective, Gerald Ford was winding down his last year of presidency the year Lasso From El Paso was released in 1976.  The thirty-nine year wait is finally over, and The Kinkster has delivered a mother-load of western/folk greatness in his brand-spankin’ new album, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met.  The album features musicians Joe Cirotti (guitar, bass, mandolin), Brian Molnar (guitar), and Jeff ‘Little Jewford’ Shelby (keyboard), and is chock-full of magnificent covers and original gems.

The Willie Nelson classic, “Bloody Mary Morning” is quick to grab my attention.  This is just a great song, and to smear the icing on the cake, Nelson lends not only guitar and vocals to the song, but steps in as producer on it as well. I would have loved to hang around the studio when this was recorded.  Kinky’s version of Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis”, keeps my ears glued to the speakers as much as the original.  “My Shit’s Fucked Up”, by the late great Warren Zevon, prompts me to keep in mind, life doesn’t slow down for anyone.  If there’s something on the top shelf of one’s priority list, take care of it before the opportunity is lost.

Friedman is a true master of storytelling.  With seemingly little effort, he draws me in to this despairingly gloomy world of solitude and isolation in title track, “The Loneliest Man I Ever Met”, and then transports me to a different place and time in “Wild Man From Borneo”.  The album closes with the elegantly performed standard “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, which features guest pianist Bobbie Nelson.  This one is very nice indeed.

I hope the wait-time is much shorter until the next release from this national treasure.  The Loneliest Man I Ever Met is a quite the splendid listen.