Saturday, February 1, 2020

#430 : Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band - I'll Drink to That



2019 – Griff Hamlin

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 1, 2020

I’ll Drink to That, the debut album from Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band is absolutely terrific.  Hamlin, known to many through his Blues Guitar Unleashed instructional website, has built an outstanding band to back him on this new release.  A smokin’ guitar and smooth vocals puts him front and center with a remarkable rhythm section comprised of keyboardist Ty Bailie, bassist Mark Smith, and drummer Chris Atchley.  The Single Barrel Blues Band also contains a splendid horn section made up of Jonathan Bradley on trumpet, Eric Letta on alto/tenor sax, Kevin Hicks on trombone, and Laura Hamlin on baritone sax.  This release is composed of ten tremendous blues tracks which are sure to keep the record on heavy-rotation.

I love the opener “Almost Level with the Ground”.  It has an instant familiarity and reminds me of what I admired about the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Hamlin’s vocals are fearless, and his guitar is flawless.  Smith and Atchley steer the bus with astonishing precision as the backing horns and keys give the song body and soul.  “Don’t Lie”, another go-to song for me, is another fine example of Hamlin’s exquisite mastery of the blues.  This song fabulously highlights his sensational shredding skills.      

“Someone” is slow and beautifully captivating.  Bailie plays this one with a soulful finesse and the horns effortlessly blend right in, making it a pure joy to listen to.  I yearn for another trip to the ‘Big Easy’ when I hear “Louisiana Holiday”.  It’s funky, fun, and best served with an ice-cold Abita beer.  Hamlin’s expertise when it comes to writing authentic blues songs, is rightfully exhibited on “Bourbon and a Pistol”.  It’s a very cool song to close the album with.

Griff Hamlin and the Single Barrel Blues Band is a band on top of their game.  I really appreciate what they are doing with the Blues, and immensely enjoyed this album.

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