Saturday, April 29, 2017

Eliza Neals - 10,000 Feet Below

2017 –  E-H Records LLC
By Phillip Smith; Apr 29, 2017

10,000 Feet Below, the latest album from Detroit music artist Eliza Neals is pretty incredible.  This wonderfully talented singer/songwriter/pianist and 2013 Michigan Blues Hall of Fame inductee, guitarist Howard Glazer (The Narcotics) are backed by an amazing group of guest musicians in the making of this fabulous record.
Neals’ angelic vocals pour freely over Glazer’s captivating and psychedelic guitar licks in the dark and spacy cover of Skip James’ “Hard Killing Floor”.  It’s an absolute delight. There’s a huge splash of more mind-melting psychedelic-infused blues in the boldly performed “Call Me Moonshine”.  Glazer’s playing is sublime.  I get lost in the hypnotizing groove of “Merle Dixon”.  It’s a warm and fuzzy guitar play-land to spend time in. 

Neals digs in deep and pulls out some amazing power vocals Ann Wilson-style, for the scorching rocker “Burn the Tent Down”.  Teaming up with guitarist Billy Davis (Jimi Hendrix, Hank Ballard), Neals gives an intoxicating delivery on the heady original composition “At the Crossroads”.  It’s absolutely beautiful.

10,000 Feet Below is a striking album, full of rich melodies and exquisite vocals.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Low Society - Sanctified

2017 – Rezonate Records
By Phillip Smith; Apr 29, 2017

It didn’t take very long at all for me to fall head over heels for this record.  Mandy Lemons’ powerful vocals stand-out as her husband, guitarist/producer Sturgis Nikides plays incredibly smooth slide, making for some deliciously twangy blues.  With backing from a Belgian rhythm section featuring bassist Jacky Verstraeten and drummer Bart De Bruecker, the band, Low Society takes on its intriguing personality.  Sanctified, their third studio album is a hard-hitting, gobsmacking delight.  It was recorded partly in Belgium and partly in Memphis, where the band currently resides.

I love their cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”.  It’s such a beautiful song, and sounds terrific with Lemons on the mic.  Guest pianist Rick Steff adds a lovely accompaniment.  There’s a crisp stillness which lingers in the air when I hear “Nina”.  This one reminds me tremendously of Fleetwood Mac during their mid-Seventies years.  “Drowning Blues” and “Raccoon Song” are captivating as well.  I could listen to Nikides play this all day.  The spirits of the cross-roads must have been summoned for title-track “Sanctified” for Lemons and Nikides both dole out no-holds-barred performances.  

Sanctified closes out with an exquisite heartfelt cover of Etta Jame’s blues classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind”.  Low Society magnificently delivers a marvelous album of blues enacted with a rebellious flair.  It’s a new favorite, for sure.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mr. Sipp - Knock a Hole In It

2017 – Malaco Records 
By Phillip Smith; Apr 22, 2017

Records like Knock A Hole In It from gospel-musician-turned-bluesman Castro Coleman, aka Mr. Sipp , “The Mississippi Blues Child”, are far and few in-between.  Coleman, winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge and Gibson Guitarist Award in Memphis, Tennessee pours his soul into his craft, both as a songwriter and performer. This album features a dozen original tunes and one fabulously superb cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” which runs nearly eight and half minutes long and segues right into a sweet guitar instrumental of “Star-Spangled Banner” which brings it to a close.

I absolutely dig the funky raw groove woven into the title-track, “Knock A Hole In It”.  The energy running through this song is stunning and electric.  This one surely goes down as my favorite song of the year.  Terrific vocals and smoking hot guitar from Coleman along with a searing performance from organist Carrol McLaughlin make “Bad Feeling” another stand-out song.  Coleman certainly does not mess around when it comes to dishing out serious blues.  From the slow, smoldering “Strings Attached” to the heel-stomping house-rockin’ “Juke Joint”, his artistry shines through. 

I have a feeling Knock a Hole In It will be at the top of my list for a quite a long time.  It’s definitely a good time.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sean Chambers - Trouble & Whiskey

2017 – American Showplace Music  
By Phillip Smith; Apr 15, 2017

From 1998 to 2003, Sean Chambers toured as lead guitarist and band leader for the legendary bluesman Hubert Sumlin. During that time, Chambers was named by Guitarist Magazine as “One of the Top 50 blues guitarists of the last century”.  His sixth release, Trouble & Whisky is fully-loaded with raw electrified blues.  Backing Chambers is drummer Kris Schnebelen(Trampled Under Foot) , bassist Todd Cook, and Michael Hensley on B3 and piano.

Right out of the gate, the driving rhythm and searing blues in “I Need Your Lovin” sets the tone for the whole album.  Chambers’ slide guitar on “Bottle Keeps Staring at Me” gets so red hot, it scorches.  The infectious hook sets in and does not let go.  With Schnebelen nailing down a thunderous performance on drums, Chambers takes on Rory Gallagher’s “Bullfrog Blues” with unbridled force.  I love the way Chambers’ guitar wails with emotion in his rendition of s B.B. King’s “Be Careful with a Fool”.  It’s plumb terrific. Special guest, John Ginty, one of my favorite keyboardists today, lays down some groovy keys on his B3 in the soulful jamboree of “Travelin’ North”.  It melts like butter with Cook’s funky bassline.  The song soars skyward as Chambers takes control of this wonderful instrumental.

Trouble & Whiskey is about as good as it gets.  It is indeed a powerful album.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Samantha Fish - Chills & Fever

2017 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; April 8, 2017

With her new album, Chills & Fever, Samantha Fish ventures into an exciting new direction, shifting her focus towards early Rock and R&B.   Recorded in Detroit, Fish baptizes this fourteen track recording in the splendid sounds of the Sixties and Seventies, enlisting members of the Detroit Cobras( rhythm guitarist Joey Mazzola, bassist Steve Nawara, drummer Kenny Tudrick), electric pianist Bob Mervak, and a superb horn section featuring Mark Levron on trumpet, and Travis Blotsky on saxophone. 

Fish sings “It’s Your Voodoo Working” with a sexy and confident voice.  Her guitar teases are terrific and sound amazing, backed by the vibrant horn accompaniment from Levron and Blotsky.  A new life is breathed into Irma Thomas’s “Hurts All Gone”.  It’s a spectacular song with a fabulous hook.  Her slide guitar on Skip James’ “Crow Jane” is a bodacious swampy treat.  I absolutely love it.  I’m also smitten by the wonderful cover of Lulu & the Luvvers’ “I’ll Come Running Over”.  That is hands-down, one big nostalgic bowlful of fun featuring a classic rhythm and blues sound.

Chills & Fever reveals a most interesting new side to Samantha Fish.  Already a huge fan of her work in the blues, this album only makes me love her music more.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Southbound Snake Charmers - Rhythm ‘N’ Rust

2017 – Southbound Snake Charmers  
By Phillip Smith; April 8, 2017

There was instant lovability for Southbound Snake Charmers the moment I first popped their latest disc, Rhythm ‘N’ Rust into the player.  The album is chock-full of swampy southern blues-rock driven by wonderful thunder filled rhythm.  Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, this magnificent trio is composed of vocalist/guitarist Chris Denman, bassist Nat Sutphin, and drummer Brooke Maloney

Maloney’s pulsing drumming lures me right into the wonderfully greasy blues of “Don’t Speak Too Soon”.  Filled with amazing guitar licks, fearless vocals, and intoxicating bass, there’s a Sixties’ Cream vibe running through this amazing psychedelic jewel.  This one relentlessly surges through my soul.  Highlighted by its caffeinated crashing beats and invigorating rhythm, attitude runs rampant through the hoodoo- infused “Snake Oil”. Denman seemingly takes a cue from RL Burnside on another favorite, “Hearts of Corruption”, singing the blues while dishing out whopping doses of deliciously swampy slide guitar.  There’s a beautiful and unsettling intensity which slowly rises to the top in “The Longest Night”, a thrilling ballad spattered with amazing guitar and sung with the freewheeling charisma of Jim Morrison. 

The brilliantly ferocious hard-rocking blues of Rhythm ‘N’ Rust satisfies my craving for exemplary music in spades.  On a ten point scale, this record scores an eleven. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tommy Talton - Somewhere South of Eden

2017 – Tommy Talton 
By Phillip Smith; April 1, 2017

It’s been almost three years since Tommy Talton’s previous release Until After Then hit the airwaves.  That one was quick to grab my attention with its lyrical and stylistic twists.   His latest, Somewhere South of Eden, continues to feed my fascination with prolific lyrics and lush melodies.  Backed by bassist Chris Donohue (Emmy Lou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss) and drummer Bryan Owings (Tony Joe White, Buddy Miller, Emmy Lou Harris), Talton is also joined by several spectacular guest musicians such as  Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Allman Brothers), Spooner Oldham, Ike Stubblefield, John Ginty, Steve Conn (Sonny Landreth, Bonnie Raitt), Kenny Head (John Barry, Georgia Satellites),  Jeff Mosier (Col. Bruce Hampton) on banjo, and saxophonists Randall Bramblett and Tom Ryan.

“Somewhere South of Eden”, a beautiful melancholy number flowing with soothing twangy slide, takes a hard look at mortality.  This song shows without a doubt Talton belongs at the top of the list when it comes to the songwriting greats.  I absolutely adore the buttery hypnotic hook in “Poblano”, a wonderful Latin-inspired instrumental with worldly beats from David Keith on congas and piano accompaniment from Chuck Leavell.  It’s always a pleasure to hear the funky keyboard wizardry of John Ginty.  His contribution to southern jam-friendly rocker “Waiting on the Saints” sounds fantastic amid Talton’s bodacious guitar licks.  “Don’t Go Away Sore”, featuring a terrific banjo performance from Jeff Mosier is a big bowlful of bluegrass fun.  It puts a grin on my face which stretches from ear to ear.

The esteemed Tommy Talton has definitely crafted one hell of an album with Somewhere South of Eden.  I highly recommend it.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.