2015 – American Showplace Music
By Phillip Smith; Jan 16, 2016
Gonna Die Tryin’, the fourth album from singer/song-writer/blues harpist extraordinaire, Chris O’Leary digs its claws in deep and pulls the listener right in. O’Leary delivers eleven tracks of original smokin’ hot blues with the help of his band, guitarist Chris Vitarello, tenor saxophonist Andy Stahl, baritone saxophonist Chris Difrancesco, bassist Matt Raymond, and drummer Jay Devlin.
One of the things I admire about O’Leary is the fact that he seems to puts as much thought into his lyrics as he does his music. When his music takes that slight turn to the dark side, and he just lets loose on that voice of his, I’m immediately reminded of music fave, Tom Waits. I love Vitarello’s tangy blues riffs and Bruce Katz’s barrelhouse piano on the lead track, “Can’t Help Yourself”. O’Leary’s badass gravelly vocals and stellar harp playing lead the way on title track “Gonna Die Tryin’”, a killer track with a hell of a lot of soul. Vitarello’s suave and tasty guitar licks are greeted by Katz’s groovy keyboard finesse on this one. I dig the horns and funky rhythm on “Hook Line and Sinker”. This tune seemingly pays homage to that sweet Memphis soul music which came out of Stax Records in the Sixties. The track is very nice indeed.
I’m pretty much knocked out by this album. It’s surely one of my favorite releases this year.