Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lisa Lystam Family Band - Give You Everything

2016 –  Ramasound Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 29, 2016

I have nothing but the best things to say about the latest album from Lisa Lystam Family Band, Give You Everything.  Hailing from Sweden, this terrific blues band is fronted by vocalist Lisa Lystam, who has been called “The New Swedish Sensation” by Jefferson Blues Magazine , the world’s oldest blues magazine still in print.  Along with Lystam, this amazing band consists of guitarists Mattias Gustafsson and Fredrik Karlsson, drummer Patrik Thelin, bassist Johan Sund, and Mikael Fall on harmonica.  Blues singer, Ida Bang also appears as a backing vocalist.  Bang, together with Lystam, are known as The Tornadettes when performing with the acclaimed Danish bluesman Thorbjørn Risager.  Risager also makes a guest appearance on the album singing alongside Lystam in the beautifully melancholy duet “Something is Wrong”.   

It’s hard to beat the riveting blues-funk-infused “Give You Everything”.  Delicious and swampy, it’s a jamboree of outstanding slide guitar, sweet harp, and vocals dripping with attitude.  “Changes” is one hell of a track as well.  Lystam attacks this with a more soulful approach, while the rhythm section keeps the energy high.  This favorite of mine closes out with a heaping dose of bodacious SRV-inspired guitar licks.  Lystam’s vocals on “Worship Me” are rocking and sexy, while the dual guitar gives the song its unique hook.  The swampy slide in “Get Up and Move” is wonderful, and rich.  I could listen to this bluesy treat all day long. 

This fabulous group of musicians is blessed with an amazing amount of talent, excelling in both writing and performance.  I really hope I get a chance to see them play live sometime.    

Friday, October 21, 2016

Devon Allman - Ride Or Die

2016 –  Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 21, 2016

Ride Or Die, the third solo album from Devon Allman is quite strong and very bold.  Recorded in Nashville, this rocking, soulful and rootsy recording confidently hits on all cylinders.  Allman returns to the studio with co-producer/drummer Tom Hambridge, along with guitarist/bassist Tyler Stokes, bassist Steve Duerst, saxophonist Ron Holloway, violinist Bobby Yang, and keyboardist Kevin McKendree

Best played loud, “Say Your Prayers” masterfully ushers in the album, firing off catchy marching riffs and wavy psychedelic licks. Allman adds more heat to the swirling rock anthem “Galaxies”, asking “when galaxies collide, will you ride or die?” Allman performs this one with a beautiful intensity.  Allman sings “Watch What You Say” with the attitude and suaveness of Tom Jones.  His vocals, dripping with soul and conviction, are wonderfully accented with his stellar guitar playing.  I love the bouncy folky rhythm Allman threads through “Live From the Heart”.  It is contagious and a sheer delight.  He then wraps the album up with “A Night Like This”, a big meaty track consisting of jet-streamed riffs, lush keys and bubbly blasts of sax.  I can’t help but think of James Bond when I hear this fabulous piece.  It truly would make for an astounding 007 theme song.

Ride Or Die is a lovely album, and is Allman’s best work yet.     

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ross Neilsen - Elemental

2016 –  Ross Neilsen
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 15, 2016

Canadian guitarist and singer/songwriter Ross Neilsen has a special way of tapping into his human experience, then catapulting that essence, full of heart and soul, into his music.  His latest album Elemental shows just that, as he infuses his unique blend of country, blues, and rock into eleven wonderfully constructed songs.  Neilsen’s talent has not gone unnoticed.  He has received Best Blues Recording for the Music New Brunswick Awards twice, received two CBS Rising Star awards, and was a semi-finalist in the 2012 International Blues Challenge

Neilsen delightfully taps into the delta blues with “Black Coffee”.  Hearing Neilsen ripping it up on guitar alongside Steve Marriner’s righteous harp performance, transports me right to Memphis’ historic Beale Street.  A haunting country melody accented by Neil Young-like riffs set the mood in “Devil Made You”.  This is one cool as hell track with fantastic steel guitar.  An air of melancholy washes over when I hear “Ash Fault” play through.  The violin accompaniment from Jim Bowskill beautifully sets the tone.  “The Race” has an old-school Motown vibe.  The soulful vocals and peppy bursts of brass put a smile on my face.

Elemental, clinging to no specific genre, is a wonderful amalgam of musical styles seamlessly woven together.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Larkin Poe - Reskinned

2016 –  RH Music
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 8, 2016

Thanks to Elvis Costello, the music of Atlanta-based duo Larkin Poe is now in my awareness.  Rebecca and Megan Lovell have been opening for Costello on his most recent tour, Detour.  The talents of this sister-duo run deep.  Rebecca commands the stage with her no-holds barred presence on both mic and lead guitar, while Megan pours out rich vocal harmonies, all while slaying the lap steel guitar.  Reskinned, their second full length album brings to the table five new tracks and seven re-released songs from the 2014 critically acclaimed Kin.

From the beginning, with the hard-rockin’ “Sucker Puncher”, Larkin Poe is quick to grab me by the collar.  This song is dripping with attitude.  Between the fierce riffs coming from Rebecca and lush slide from Megan, I am totally captivated.  The Lovells seriously kick out the jams with their bad-girl anthem “Trouble in Mind”.  I love the sheer rawness of “P.R.O.B.L.E.M”, with its riveting guitar licks and punk attitude served Jack White style.  Stand-out songs, the deliciously swampy “When God Closes a Door” and the wonderfully melodic and bluesy “Blunt” puts the magnifying glass to religion and dogma. 

Their style of songwriting is unique and oftentimes dark, and their performance is wondrous and exciting. Reskinned is such a terrific album, I can hardly stand to take it out of the CD player.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lady A - Loved, Blessed & Blues

2016 –  Self-Released
By Phillip Smith; Oct. 2, 2016

When the mood hits for a nice blend of blues, funk & soul , it doesn’t get much better than taking in the intoxicating vocal sounds of Seattle songstress Anita White, aka Lady A.  Her latest album, Loved, Blessed & Stressed is an absolute splendor.  White is joined by Dexter Allen (guitar, bass, piano and backing vocals) and Joey Robinson (drums, and keyboard).     

One doesn’t have to be in a church house to be taken to church.  Title track, “Love, Blessed & Blues” grabs ahold of me and vibrates right to the soul, dousing me in the blues gospel-style.  Lady A gets the adrenalin flowing in the high-energy “Honey Hush (Tribute to Elnora)”. Play, listen and then repeat on this dance-friendly treat.

Lady A breaks out the funk George Clinton/Brides of Funkenstein style on “Take Me Back to Seattle”.  I love the growly bass-line Allen plops down, and the cool little micro-rhythms Robinson adds on the keys.  There’s a sweet Motown feeling imbedded in “Love Calling”, a smooth R&B slow song with beautiful vocals.

Loved Blessed & Blues puts me in my happy place with every listen, leaving me with a huge smile across my face.