Saturday, April 23, 2022 #552 > Jarkka Rissanen Tonal Box feat. Kalle Fält - Bones


2022 – Humu Records

By Phillip Smith; April 23, 2022

Original source :


Having reviewed Finnish guitarist Jarkka Rissanen’s 2021 album Cargo last year, I was quite anxious to hear his latest release Bones with his band Tonal Box featuring Kalle Fält.  Like his previous album, this one is comprised entirely of instrumentals divinely steeped in jazz fusion leaning into funk and blues.  Tonal Box is comprised of Rissanen on guitars, lap steel, and Casio, Fält on tenor sax, Jorma Välimäki on tuba and double bass, and Jussi Kettunen on drums and percussion.

Bones rolls in on a funky beat surrounded by the sweet swampy sound of slide peppered with blasts of sax from Fält on “Chicken Hawk”.  Then “Heyday” hits, with its alluring dance-inducing rhythm and relaxed Hawaiian-flavored lap steel with a saxophone-lead.  I love the space created with their cover of Dr. John’s “Della (Part 1)”.  With tuba accompaniment, this song beautifully captures the essence of a lazy day.  I detect a strong jam-band essence in “Shake”.  With every listen, I’m reminded of Phish, a favorite of mine.  “Down the Road” walks the tightrope between blues and jazz, with Rissanen holding down the blues on guitar while Fält keeps a foot on the jazz side of the song on sax.

Jarkka Rissanen wins me over again with these eight instrumental tracks on “Bones”.  It’s an absolutely splendid album.              


This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, April 16, 2022 #551 > GeminiiDragon - Fighting Fire with Fire


2021 – Nepotism Recordings

By Phillip Smith; April 16, 2022

Original source :

The bluesy hard-edged grooves and hearty power-filled vocals stand front-and-center on Fighting Fire With Fire, the latest release from Louisiana recording artist Jessica Harper aka GeminiiDragon.  Undoubtedly, that’s the winning combination which immediately drew my attention to this record.  This all-original album hosts eight splendid tracks co-written with producer/guitarist Christian Simeon.  With Harper behind the mic, and Simeon on guitar, the rest of the band is comprised of bassist Danny Woolen and drummer Kash Carlsson.    

With an infectious rhythm running through it, title-track “Fighting Fire with Fire” kicks the album off with an Eighties-era vibe in a delicious musical cocktail of new-wave soul.  “Just the Way it is” leans in a little heavier as Simeon throws in harder, groovier riffs, and Harper demonstrates her vocal mastery and range.  “Huh Huh Huh” is a genuinely cool track too.  As Carlsson lays down a very danceable Seventies disco beat, GeminiiDragon channels her inner Tina Turner, with Simeon taking a more industrial approach on guitar.  It sounds great.  When it comes to straight-up blues, “Woman Scorned” is absolutely fabulous.  I love Harper’s little growls she peppers into the song.  Like those classic Led Zeppelin tracks we so adore, “Blacktop Good Man” rolls in like thunder before a storm.  GeminiiDragon’s fearless approach on vocals conjure a huge rock-star presence as Simeon is there to back her all the way on guitar.  It’s definitely an amazing song.  The comradery between Harper and the band shines bright on “Badder Than Eva” as they bring the album to its close.  The stripped-down instrumentation and the whisky-soaked vocal runs transport me right to the heart of the Mississippi delta. 

Fighting Fire With Fire is one of those albums which captivated me at first listen, and kept me completely engaged until the end.  I’m looking forward already to GeminiiDragon’s next release.  


     Just the Way It Is  (Offical Video)

Huh Huh Huh (Official Video)

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, April 9, 2022 #550 > Eliza Neals - Badder to the Bone


2022 – E-H Records

By Phillip Smith; April 9, 2022 

Original source :


Eliza Neals is an artist who consistently delivers album after album of solidly-written, exquisitely performed blues-rock.  Badder to the Bone marks my fourth album from Neals which I have made a point to review, and the title is very much on the mark.  She is a total badass in the music world, and this album is indeed badder to the bone.  With Neals on lead vocals, piano, and B3, the other musicians on this record are Lance Lopez ( SuperSonic Blues Machine, Lucky Peterson) and Billy ‘JC’ Davis (Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Jimi Hendrix) on guitar, Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd) on B3+200A, Jason Kott ( Robert Randolph) and Paul Randolph ( Alice Cooper, Mudpuppy) on bass, Tim Grogan, Skeeto Valdez, Brian Clune, and Jeffrey “Shakey” Fowlkes ( Too Slim) on drums, Michael Puwal ( Kenny Wayne Shepherd) on guitar+bass, and Kimberli Wright on backing vocals.        

Fowlkes’ high-octane beat and Puwal’s swampy slide guitar heats things up quite nicely as Neals takes charge vocally on a call for unity in “United We Stand”.  She then follows up with an intoxicating dose of slow buttery blues featuring a searing guitar solo from Lopez on “Queen of the Nile”.  It’s an extraordinary listen.  “Lockdown Love” is a great song too.  With Fowlkes and Puwal onboard, this red-hot track shares the frustrations of dealing with stress while living inside a covid-constructed bubble.  Cloaked in a Sixties-mod fashion, “I Got a Gun”, featuring Billy Davis on guitar, is catchy as hell.  When Quentin Tarantino finally gets around to filming Kill Bill 3, this song would be a perfect fit for the soundtrack.  The gospel-soul-inspired “Heathen” is a beautiful piece with a Muscle Shoals vibe about taking out the trash.  I love how Neals’ piano performance is coupled with Galvin behind the B3.   I absolutely adore her cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”.  Neals takes this 1969 classic and breathes into it a new glorious life with Lopez at the guitar helm absolutely tearing it up.  When he plays, notes majestically hang in the air. 

I can’t help but be a huge fan of Eliza Neals.  Her approach to the Blues is a fresh and unique one.  I thoroughly enjoyed “Badder to the Bone” from start to finish.  It’s chockful of badassery for sure.        



Other PhillyCheeze reviews featuring Eliza Neals:





For more information about Eliza Neals, visit this website :


Available on BandCamp

This terrific album is also available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store. 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, April 2, 2022 #549 > Hurricane Ruth - Live at 3rd and Lindsley


2022 – Hurricane Ruth Records

By Phillip Smith; April 2, 2022

Original source :

Live at 3rd and Lindsley, the sixth and most recent album from Ruth LaMaster aka Hurricane Ruth lands a ferocious punch with a fistful of raw, hearty blues.  This fourteen-track gem was recorded at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by two-time Grammy winner Tom Hambridge.  It features Scott Holt and Nick Nguyen on guitar, Calvin Johnson on bass, Lewis Stephens on keys, with Hambridge also behind the drums.  Jimmy Hall makes a guest appearance on a couple of songs as well.

With a wall of rhythm, and searing guitar behind her, Hurricane Ruth leads the album off in a fierce way with “Roll Little Sister” which originally appeared on her 2012 release Power of the Blues ... Feels Like a Hurricane.  “Dirty Blues”, which was one of my favorites off her 2020 album Good Life, is hot and slathered with lots of swampy slide.  I love the cover of Peppermint Harris’ “As the Years Go Passing By” with Jimmy Hall’s fantabulous harp performance and accompanying vocals.   I can almost feel the magic which was happening onstage when this was recorded.  Hall shares his talent for one more song, “Make Love to Me”, originally on Hurricane Ruth’s Born on the River album.  This, paired with the prior song, makes for a nice scorching two-fer of red, hot blues.  LaMaster ends the show with a song she wrote for her mama, “Dance Dance Norma Jean”.  Holt injects a ZZ-Top-sized lightning bolt of electricity into this John Lee Hooker-inspired boogie for a jaw-dropping experience.  It absolutely cooks.           

Hurricane Ruth’s Live at 3rd and Lindsley is as solid as they come for live blues albums.  It’s the real deal, that’s for sure.       



HURRICANE RUTH - Barrelhouse Joe's / 3rd & Lindsley Nashville

For more information about Hurricane Ruth or to purchase music, visit the website :

This terrific album is available in the PhillyCheeze Amazon Store.   *As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.