Saturday, April 24, 2021

#497 : The Reverend Shawn Amos - The Cause of it All

 


2021 – Put Together Music

Release Date : May 21, 2021

By Phillip Smith; April 24, 2021

The Cause of it All, the fourth studio album from The Reverend Shawn Amos, is the eighth release overall for Amos.  Taking advantage of time in quarantine, Amos teamed up with guitarist Chris “Doctor” Roberts, of Amos’ full band, The Brotherhood to record an album of classic blues songs in a raw, stripped-down fashion.  Amos’ magnetic vocals and wailing harp are the perfect match for the deliciously swampy guitar playing from Roberts.  As a duo, the chemistry between the two makes for a superb album of blues.

The album starts off with an intoxicating cover of “Spoonful”, the Willie Dixon classic made famous by Howlin’ Wolf.  It’s delivered with a matter-of-factness that sends chills down my spine.  With The Reverend belting out fearless vocals and harmonica notes that seemingly hover above the song in mid-air, The Doctor hammers out flesh-ripping guitar licks.  It’s absolutely wonderful.  They fabulously follow up with a killer blues-rocker off The Red Devils 1992 debut album King King called “Goin’ to the Church”.  It’s a fitting tribute to frontman Lester Butler who wrote the song and sadly passed away from a drug overdose in 1998 at the age of thirty-eight.  Impassioned with heavy emotion, The Reverend delivers another cut-to-the-bone gem in Howlin’ Wolf’s “Color and Kind”.  Intimate and charming, their acoustic performances of “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Hoochie Coochie Man” put a gleaming smile on my face.

This is one of the best blues albums I’ve heard this year.  The Cause of it All has everything it needs to be a contender for Best Traditional Blues Album.                          

---

  

 

 

For more information about the artist, visit this website : www.shawnamos.com

 

 

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.




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


Saturday, April 17, 2021

#496 : The Jujubes - Where Are We Now

 


2021 – Faversham Records

By Phillip Smith; April 17, 2021

 

I’m absolutely enamored over Where Are We Now, the debut album from The Jujubes.  It’s delightfully soaked in that wonderful delta blues and served with an unbridled authority.  With a stripped-down and raw approach to their music, it’s truly amazing what this South East London trio brings to the table.  Comprised of singer Nikki Brooks, guitarist Sandy Michie, and harp player/guitarist Pete Sim, the band covers eight classic blues songs and delivers three originals. 

A formidable dose of slide guitar and harmonica ushers this blues album in with a wonderful cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You’re Gonna Be Sorry”.  Nikki’s vocals are a sultry and fearless combination made to sing the blues.  Her delivery on Elmore James’ “Hurts Me Too” is beautiful.  It sounds perfect alongside Pete’s radiant harmonica performance and Sandy’s sweet swampy guitar.  They win more of my affection on the Son House classic “John the Revelator”.  It’s wonderfully eerie with its haunting guitar licks and Nick Marangoni’s heartbeat-like pulse on drums.  More ominous gospel blues ensues with Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night”.  This almost-instrumental ingeniously creates a dark and uneasy atmosphere with brilliant slide guitar and sounds of creaking floors.

Their original songs are great too.  Title-track “Where Are We Now” is marvelously melancholy.  Nikki sings this one with pure emotion as she questions the status of a shaky relationship.  I love how “Change is Coming” takes an upbeat path.  The song’s partying juke-house rhythm occasionally swerves into the North Mississippi lane and magnificently ends in a furious explosion of sound.  Another favorite, “The Funeral Song” is a delicate and fragile torch song which steals my heart.  It’s fabulous.      

Where Are We Now steals my heart with every listen.  I’m already looking forward to the Jujubes next release.

---

 

 For more information about the artist, visit their Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/thejujubes

 

 

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music.

 


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

 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

#495 : Dexter Allen - Keep Moving On

 


2021 – Endless Blues Records

By Phillip Smith; April 10, 2021

 

Hailing from Crystal Springs, Mississippi and playing music since he was twelve, Dexter Allen is a man who definitely knows the blues.  Starting out playing bass in his parents’ gospel band, he moved on to lead guitarist for The Airtight Band, and then on to playing lead guitar for Grammy award winner Bobby Rush’s band.  Now with six solo albums already under his belt, Allen has just rolled out one more smashing record of sweet downhome blues.  It’s called Keep Moving On and its fabulous.  With Christopher Minter on drums and Joey Robinson on drums and keys, Allen holds the fort down on lead vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar, and keys as well.    

In a tasty dose of funkdafied blues, Allen leads the record off with title-track “Keep Moving On”.  I love the positive message he hammers into his lyrics, reminding us to “Keep your head up high.   Keep reaching for the sky.”.  On “Love Talk”, Allen belts out a performance that is soaked in the essence of the late great B.B. King.  His vocals are suave and electric, as notes from his guitar seemingly hang in mid-air amidst the sweet lingering sound of organ.  “Blues Eyed Girl” is soulful and dreamy.  Its romantic lyrics and arrangement bring to mind the wonderful love songs recorded by the legendary Teddy Pendergrass.  He dives deep into the blues on “F.A.B.U.L.I.S.T. Woman” telling his story of a disenchanted romance with more of his soul-warming guitar and a delightful backing of horns.  It sounds so good.

Dexter Allen’s Keep Moving On is music for the soul.  When I listen to this record, I really feel like I’m hearing the blues.

---


For more information about the artist, visit this website : https://www.dexterallen.com

 

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.





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


Sunday, April 4, 2021

#494 : Elizabeth King - Living in the Last Days

 


2021 – Bible & Tire

By Phillip Smith; April 4, 2021

It’s been forty-five years since Elizabeth King walked away from the recording business to raise her fifteen children.  King has returned to the studio to share her dynamic voice with a brand-new album of uplifting sacred soul called Living in the Last Days.   With Bruce Watson producing, King is backed by The Sacred Soul Sound Section comprised of guitarists Will Sexton (Dale Watson, Nicki Bluhm, Amy LaVere) and Matt Ross-Spang (Al Green, Jason Isbell, John Prine), bassist Mark Stuart (Alvin Youngbood Hart), and drummer/percussionist George Sluppick (Albert King, Chris Robinson Brotherhood).  Also appearing on this record are The Vaughn Sisters Vocals, The D-Vine Spiritualettes Vocals, organists Al Gamble (St. Paul & the Broken Bones), and Rick Steff, vocalists Chris and Courtney Barnes, with Art Edmaiston and Jim Spike on horns, and William Graves on vocals and Wurlitzer electric piano.

This eleven-track album leads off with “No Ways Tired”.  King’s steadfast vocals are accented with a deep buttery bass, and a sweet twangy guitar.  I love the title-track “Living in the Last Days”.  Complete with hand-clapping and beefy organ accompaniment, it becomes quite the glory-hallelujah hymn.  “Call on Him” is an exquisite taste of Sixties soul wrapped around southern gospel.  It’s musical gold.  Drenched in a swampy Mississippi blues, “You’ve Got to Move” brings the album to a close.  With a superb performance, King expresses just how closely the musical paths are between the blues and church music.                   

The world could use more music like the ones Elizabeth Kings brings to Living in the Last Days.

---

    

For more information about the artist, visit this website : www.bibleandtire.com

 

 

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.


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



Saturday, April 3, 2021

#493 : 8 Ball Aitken - Ice Cream Man


 

2021 – Red Rocker Records

By Phillip Smith; April 3, 2021

 

I can’t help but be a fan of Nashville-based Aussie recording artist 8 Ball Aitken.  His unique style of blues-rock is a funky and infectious blend.  Ice Cream Man, his twelfth and latest album, was recorded in Nashville and features Buddy Guy’s Grammy Award winning producer Tom Hambridge on drums, Buddy Leach (George Thorogood and the Destroyers) on saxophone, Taya Chani on backing vocals, Dillion James Aitken (8 Ball’s brothers) on organ/keys, with 8 Ball taking on all guitars, bass, harmonica, and lead vocals.

Southern soul meets delta blues when 8 Ball leads the album off with title-track “Ice Cream Man”.  Loaded with fun, saucy double entendres, this one always puts a smile on my face.  Fueled with a Jimi Hendrix-inspired riff and a ‘Summer of Love’ vibe, 8 Ball builds an enlightening case for “Peace Love and Understanding”, by dropping notable quotes from purveyors of peace such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lennon.  “Boomerang”, a psychedelic rocker with a thunderous beat and an inescapable groove chronicles the tale of an on-again off-again relationship.  This is one cool-as-hell track which begs to be heard at a loud volume.  I love the ominous road 8 Ball wanders onto with “Hard Times and Struggle”.  He’s definitely reaching into Tom Waits and Nick Cave territory here, and it sounds great.  The fierce guitar/harmonica performance he gives on “Solitaire” is absolutely wonderful and cuts deep to the bone.

Ice Cream Man is a splendid listen from start to finish.  I highly recommend it.


---




For more information about the artist, visit this website : https://www.8ballaitken.com/

 

Available on Bandcamp 

 


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