Saturday, March 28, 2020

#438 : Ryan Perry - High Risk, Low Reward

2020 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; March 28, 2020

In 2007, Ryan Perry was only thirteen years old when Homemade Jamz Blues Band placed second at the 23rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  With four albums already under his belt as frontman for this Tupelo, Mississippi-based sibling trio with brother Kyle and sister Taya, Ryan ventured a new direction to record this debut album as a solo artist.  For High Risk, Low Reward, Perry noted that he originally wanted to keep the Jamz vibes going, but discovered along the process of writing, his musical tastes had changed.  “The new generation of the blues is here now, and it’s here to stay…”, says Perry.  This new album contains eleven extraordinary tracks, and features Roger Inniss on bass, Lucy Piper on drums, along with backing vocalists Jeffrey Staten and Stefanie Bechtold.

Perry cracks the album open with “Ain’t Afraid to Eat Alone”, a track offering a healthy dose of attention-grabbing guitar and creamy vocals.  From the first listen, I’m instantly reminded of the remarkable music of Robert Cray.  I find myself going back for extra helpings of title-track, “High Risk, Low Reward”.  Perry delivers it in that delectable North Mississippi swamp style, which I adore so much.  His cover of Willie Dixon’s “Evil is Going On” is riveting and magnificent.  His guitar prowess shines brightly as his voice delightfully growls.  The album closes with an amazing delta-blues original “Hard Times”.  I absolutely love it. 

Perry keeps one foot in Mississippi as his other seeks new ground, creating a fresh blend of blues.  Mississippi High Risk, Low Reward is a terrific album every blues fan should give a listen to. 


·      *   Note : Ryan Perry will be joining Jeremiah Johnson and Whitney Shay for Ruf Records Blues Caravan 2020.           

For more information about the artist, visit this website:  

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

#437 : Dedicated Men of Zion - Can't Turn Me Around

2020 – Bible & Tire Recordings
By Phillip Smith; March 21, 2020

The Dedicated Men of Zion’s latest release Can’t Turn Me Around is plainly put, music for the soul.  The four men whose magnificent harmony make this record such a stand out is Anthony Daniels, Antwan Daniels, Dexter Weaver, and Marcus Sugg.  This eastern North Carolina gospel quartet was formed in 2014 as a quintet, but with the passing of founding member Trevoris Newton, the departure of Darren Cannon, and the addition of Sugg, the group was rebuilt as four.  Anthony, who has backed up Elton John, Toni Braxton, and Bebe Winans, is Antwan’s father, and Sugg’s father-in-law.  Produced by Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records, and recorded in his Delta-Sonic Sound Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, the record comes to life, enlisting Watson’s all-star studio band.  With Will Sexton on guitar, George Sluppick on drums and percussion, Mark Stuart on bass, and Art Edmaiston on horns, the music is infused with that easily identifiable Memphis soul sound I often crave.

“I Feel Alright” is definitely reminiscence of the sounds coming out of the Stax studios on East McLemore Ave in the sixties.  Anthony’s velvety lead vocals sound fantastic backed the all-star band.  I love the hypnotic riff running through title-track “Can’t Turn Me Around”.  Anthony’s voice shines brightly, while Sexton lays down some funky psychedelic licks on guitar.  It sounds great.  The harmonies on the up-beat “You Don’t Know” are delightfully uplifting.  A fitting song for the times ,“It’s a Shame” is southern gospel soul at its finest.  

I’d encourage anyone to check this album out.  It’s the real deal.


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Saturday, March 14, 2020

#436 : Wide Mouth Mason - I Wanna Go With You

2019 – Wide Mouth Mason

By Phillip Smith; March 14, 2020

Wide Mouth Mason, a blues-rooted duo formed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1995, is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Shaun Verreault and percussionist/vocalist Safwan Javed.  I Wanna Go With You, their eighth release, features a dozen impressive songs fortified with poignant lyrics and tight musicianship.  Verreault, a master of slide guitar, embraces a threestyle technique which consists of wearing three slides with rounded tips.  It definitely sounds amazing on both his resonator/dobro, and electric lap steel. 

A catchy hook and lush slide guitar from Verreault beckon me to join their journey forged with “Bodies in Motion”.  Vancouver hip-hop artist Tonye Aganaba lends her remarkable voice to “Every Red Light”.  This is a spectacular song bathed in pop and slathered with a bit of grease.  The imagery effortlessly spills from the lyrics.  “High Road” is a stunning blues track.  The sound of the dobro rings clear and sounds great with slide backer.  I love “Some Kind of Requiem” which boasts an intense rhythm, magnificent picking, and gospel-inspired vocals.  “Erase Any Trace”, cowritten by David Gogo, is another excellent blue-soaked song.  It’s swampy and fantastic.  Wide Mouth Mason fabulously cover David Bowie’s 1983 chart-topping hit “Modern Love”.  They give it a bluesy makeover with a dab of harp from Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall. 

With a primary theme of traveling, I Wanna Go With You makes for a great listen on the road.  Each song, solid as a rock, the album makes for one hell of a listen.          


For more information about the artist, visit this website :

Saturday, March 7, 2020

#435 : Josh Smith - Live at the Spud

2020 – Flat V Studios
By Phillip Smith; March 7, 2020

I’ve been a fan of Josh Smith’s since reviewing his Don’t Give Up On Me album in 2013 for Blues Revue Magazine’s online zine BluesWax.  His 2015 album, Over Your Head album was another favorite.  It’s so cool to hear this new live recording of Josh playing at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California.  Comprised of back to back gigs on December 29 and 30, 2018, the album provides a nine-song retrospective of Smith’s last fifteen years.  With stellar musicians, drummer Gary Novak and bassist Travis Carlton backing him, Smith delivers one hell of a performance.

He kicks into top gear with a heavy dose of blues-rock on “How Long”.  It’s such a phenomenal jam with lots of beefy bass, crashing drums, and searing guitar.  “Pusher” sneaks up right behind with delightful boatload of funky jazz.  This thirteen-plus minute piece is colossal to say the least.  The funk is flying on “Letting You Go”, and I’m loving every bit of it.  Smith’s vocals are confident and bluesy and his guitar is white hot.  Novak crushes on drums.  An injection of fuzz bass from Carlton takes “When I Get Mine” to the next level.  It’s amazing.  I get goosebumps when they break into “Triple J Hoedown”, a magnificent western-rooted jam.  It’s a pure joy to listen to.

Spinning Live at the Spud this past week has definitely brightened my commutes to and from work.  I hope to see more live albums like this from Josh in the future.           


For more information about the artist, visit this website..  

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.