Showing posts with label album review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label album review. Show all posts

Saturday, May 30, 2020

#447 : Shawn Pittman - Make it Right!



2020 – Continental Blue Heaven

By Phillip Smith; May 30, 2020


Shawn Pittman has toured with Susan Tedeschi, recorded with Double Trouble, been in a band with former members of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and played with Hubert SumlinJames Cotton, and Pinetop Perkins.  That’s quite the amazing resume, and it’s no surprise his thirteenth release Make it Right!, hooked me from the git-go.  Pittman’s guitar performances are amazing, and he sounds so damn good as he maneuvers from crisp and twangy, to dirty and swampy.  This is the kind of guitar-centric blues I enjoy most.  Pittman, on guitar and vocals, is joined by bassist Erkan Özdemir and drummer Levent Özdemir for the making of this splendid twelve track album.    

The delectable slow droning riff on “Done Tole You So” called out to me like a R.L. Burnside song.  It embraces that North Mississippi Hill country sound, and I love every bit of it.  A spectacularly funky cover of Albert King’s “Finger on the Trigger” follows.  Its groove, surrounded in a Hendrix-inspired cloak of psychedelia, is warm and inviting.  A pulsing breakneck beat courtesy of Levent is the only source for rhythm on title track, “Make it Right”.  Pittman’s guitar performance is scorching.  His rendition of Junior Kimbrough’s “I Feel Good” puts me in my happy place, as the juke joint experience is wonderfully recreated. The blues is played nice and slow on Pittman’s original “How Long”, as each note seems to hover in the air.  I embrace their instrumental take of James Brown’s “Cold Sweat”.  It’s one my top favorites.    

Make it Right is one killer record.  This is definitely one album you want to pick up.        


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

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·      *   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:  www.ryanperryband.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, February 22, 2020

#433 : Ben Rice & RB Stone - Out of the Box




2020 – Middle Mountain Music
Release Date : March 6, 2020

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 22, 2020


Out of the Box, a cigar box guitar project by Ben Rice and RB Stone caught my attention in a magnificent way.  Rice and Stone have written eleven original blues tracks which they perform using an assortment of cigar box guitars comprised of 6 and 4 string Washboards, Swampeast Cigar Box, and a Lobo Cigar Box.  Backing Rice and Stone on this self-produced project is drummer Dave Melyan, bassist Joseph Barton and Jimi Bott on tambourine.  Bott, the award-winning blues drummer who has played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and The Proven Ones, also recorded and mixed the record.

The guys bust out in full rockabilly style on “Hot Rod Mama”, both tearing it up on 6-string Washboards.  The slide sounds terrific, and their vocals are dynamic.  Melvan’s back-beat and Rice’s mesmerizing riff instills a relaxed North Mississippi vibe to “Easy Rollin’ Down the Road”.   Stone breaks out his harmonica on the delightfully cool retro track “Hoodoo Workin’ Overtime”.  There’s a bit of a Howlin’ Wolf essence about this one that I adore.  “Swamp East Boogie” puts a smile on my face with every listen as Stone lets loose on his SwampEast CBG.  The Southeast Missouri area they sing about is very familiar to me.   “Bad Blood on Mean Whiskey” has a menacing ambiance and a badass attitude that is irresistible.      

The grand finale of this splendid album is a song called “Lobo Jam”.  This four and a half minute instrumental jam consists of an edgy driving rhythm and lots of smoking slide guitar.  I absolutely love it.  This album is a must for blues and cigar box guitar fans.      

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For more information about these artists, visit their websites:  https://rbstone.com and https://www.benricelive.com/

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, January 18, 2020

#428 : Thorbjørn Risager - Come On In




2020 – Ruf Records 

By Phillip Smith; Jan.18, 2020

I’ve been a big fan of Thorbjørn Risager since reviewing his Too Many Roads album in 2014.  This eight-piece band from Denmark has been playing together for seventeen years, and continually raise the mark with every release.  Rooted in blues, and infused with elements of jazz, swing, gospel, and rock, Risager’s music is some of the best recorded today.  Their new album Come On In is absolutely stunning.  Backing Risager while he takes lead on guitar and vocals, is Emil Balsgaard on piano/keys, Joachim Svensmark on guitar, Kasper Wagner on assorted saxophones, Hans Nybo on tenor sax, Peter W. Kehl on trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone/sousaphone, Søren Bøjgaard on bass/moog/synthesizer, and Martin Seidelin on drums/percussion. 

Title track “Come on In” rolls out with a fetching pulse from Seidelin while Risager lures me in with his cool-as-hell voice and etheric guitar licks.  I love the slide on “Last Train”.  This fabulous, hard-driving blues tune is marvelously infectious.  “Two Lovers” is beautifully written and performed.  Risager constructs a dreamy and hypnotic atmosphere in “On and On”.   There’s a deep soulful energy about this one, that draws me right in.  With the dials set at eleven, they tackle “Love So Fine” with searing guitar, pounding keys, and a backline of brass.  This powerful jam is a great one to rock out to. 

Thørbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado have unquestionably won me over yet again with Come On In.  It is such a splendid album to usher in the new year.           

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For more information about the artist, visit this website https://risager.info     




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, January 11, 2020

#427 : Annika Chambers - Kiss My Sass



2019 – Vizztone  
By Phillip Smith; Jan. 11, 2020

Kiss My Sass, the third studio album from Houston blues artist Annika Chambers, is a dynamo of hot soulful blues.  Chambers, who was deservedly awarded the 2019 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year, has been nominated again for 2020.  She certainly woos me over with her astonishing beautiful voice.      

Immediately, I’m lured into the record with “Let That Sass Out”, a tune written by R.B. Stone.  Powerful vocals from Chambers is topped with a buttery rhythm from drummer Greg Brown Jr., and bassist Larry Fulcher.  Searing guitar licks from The Mighty Orq seals the deal.  Ruthie Foster makes a guest appearance on “What’s Your Thing”, with The Mighty Orq on pedal steel.  This one is an absolutely fabulous cocktail of deep blues and heavy soul.  I downright love her cover of the Etta James’ classic “In the Basement”.  This party song puts such a big smile on my face with every listen.  Chambers enlists her husband, the great Paul DesLauriers with acoustic guitar in hand, to join in a spirited duet on “I Feel the Same”.  They sound wonderful together.  DesLauriers douses his guitar with gobs of delightful slide while the subtle booming thunder from percussionist Sam Harrison injects an unmistakable heaviness to the song.   

Kiss My Sass truly is an album I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end.  It’s a terrific listen.      
   
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For more information about the artist, visit this website..  https://www.annikachambers.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, December 22, 2019

#422 : Matty T Wall - Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1




2019 – Hipsterdumpster Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec. 22, 2019

Australian bluesman Matty T Wall has been a favorite of mine since reviewing his debut album Blue Skies in 2016.  His second album, Sidewinder, which was released in 2018 was among my favorite albums that year.  Now, his third release, Transpacific Blues, Vol. 1 is out and I love it to pieces.  Wall records this colossal masterpiece with returning musicians, drummer Ric Whittle and bassist Stephen Walker to back him.  For this gem, Wall also pulls in some of the heaviest hitters in the blues arena to accompany him on this killer eight track album of classic blues.  Those guests include Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Kirk Fletcher, Dave Hole, and Kid Ramos. 

The record furiously kicks off with one of my absolute favorite songs, John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”.  Featuring fellow Australian bluesman, slide guitarist Dave Hole, this song absolutely cooks.  The fabulous Eric Gales adds his fiery magic to the groovy cover of Tommy Tucker’s 1964 hit “High Heel Sneakers”.  It’s fun to hear Wall and Trout jam out on the “She’s Into Something”.  I love his cover of “Stormy Monday”.  Wall’s vocals are suave and soulful.  Kirk Fletcher appears on Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” for one hell of a performance.  Whittle and Walker keeps a bit of that classic Stax vibe going too.  Wall delightfully takes on “I’m Tore Down”, originally recorded by Freddy King, and follows up with a riveting rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”.

This is definitely an album blues fans will want to pick up.  I dig every bit of it, from start to end.      

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: mattytwall.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, December 14, 2019

#421 : Jay Gordon's Blues Venom - Slide Rules!



2019 - Shuttle Music

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 14, 2019

I was first introduced to Jay Gordon’s Blue Venom when I reviewed the No Cure album for Blues Review Magazine in 2011.  It appeared on their online web-zine BluesWax.  That was one of my favorite discs that year.  Slide Rules!, Gordon’s latest release is even more spectacular, as his heels dig deep into the Mississippi delta mud for thirteen ferociously outstanding electric slide blues.  Gordon, one of the best guitarists/vocalists around fronts the band with bassist Sharon Butcher and drummer Tom Parham making up the rhythm section.

Gordon opens up with one of his originals “Dripping Blues” which definitely lives up to its name.  The slide-work on this is covered in grease and cooked to perfection.  He follows with another astonishing track “Pain”.  It is packed with more tantalizing guitar, and topped with his trademark fearless, gravelly vocals.  I positively dig it.  “Dockery’s Plantation” is an absolutely fabulous seven-and-a-half minute experience.  It’s ambrosia for the blues lover’s soul. 

The cover songs they choose for this record are brilliant.  First we get Elmore James’ “Stranger Blues” with its unavoidable driving rhythm.  They do this one just right.  Hearing Robert Johnson’s “Travelin Riverside Blues” puts a big smile on my face.  But their version of “Train Train”, that badass song released by Blackfoot in 1979, is a killer indeed.                             

So, like the first album from Jay Gorden I reviewed, Slide Rules! is definitely among my favorites from the year.  I highly recommend it.    

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



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, November 16, 2019

#417 : Rebekah Meldrum - (self-titled)


2019 – Rebekah Meldrum

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 16, 2019

I’m very impressed with the debut self-titled release from Indiana-based singer-songwriter Rebekah Meldrum.  This preacher’s daughter grew up singing gospel, but got a penchant for the blues after hearing Koko Taylor at the young age of eight.  Guitarist Paul Holdman, her longtime collaborator, makes for a perfect fit, for together they weave a terrific album of earthy, delta-inspired blues.  The rest of the band is comprised of bassist David Murray, drummer Kevin Kouts, with P.J. Yinger on trumpet, and Richard Dole on saxophone. Tad Robinson and Patrick Long share duties on harmonica.

I love the opening track “Set Your Soul Free”. It is deliciously swampy to the core.  Holdman’s slide is fantastic and sounds great alongside Robinson’s attention-grabbing harp playing.  Meldrum’s vocals are fearless and sweet, as she delivers another fabulous serving of original blues with “Whiskey and Wine”.  This one is quite nice.  Holdman keeps his performance beautifully crisp, and Robinson shines as he rips it up on harmonica.  Meldrum surfs her smooth, velvety voice atop a funky rhythm on “Coat Tails”.  Holdman adds a funky nod to James Brown with his Jimmy Nolen-style chicken-scratch guitar licks.  I enjoy the song a lot.   

Meldrum closes this bodacious seven-track album with “I’m Here”, a song dedicated to friends and family lost to suicide.  The horns add a sense of a New Orleans second line.  It’s really a lovely song.  A portion of the profits from this track, are earmarked for donation to the Suicide Prevention Program.  This is really a terrific album, and I’d recommend it to any music fan. 

 







For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.rebekahmeldrum.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, November 9, 2019

#416 : Johnny Rawls - I Miss Otis Clay


2019 - Third Street Cigar Records   
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 9, 2019

It’s always a pleasure to hear new music from Johnny Rawls.  He is indeed one of the best soul-blues musicians around today.  I make a point to go hear him whenever he’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, performing at Checkers Tavern.  His new album, I Miss Otis Clay is downright spectacular.  I love it from start to finish.  This poignant homage to Rawls’ close friend and Blues Hall of Famer Otis Clay, is an instant favorite for me.  Recorded in Toledo, Ohio, the home of Third Street Cigar Records, the album features local blues musicians: guitarist Larry ‘Mr. Entertainment’ Gold, bassist Johnny ‘Hi-Fi’ Newmark, keyboardist ‘Cadillac’ Dan Magers, and drummer Scott Kretzer.  Also appearing on the record are The Toledo Horns comprised of Ric Wolkins on trumpet, and Mark Lemie on sax.

The hot buttery soul of “California Shaking Again’ leads off with a funky backbeat, infectious riffs, and sweet blasts of brass.  Rawls’ vocals are smooth and suave for this fantastic opening track.  Celebrating those contemporaries who have helped keep the art of The Blues alive, he pays an endearing tribute with “Give a Toast to the Blues”.  Guaranteed to set the mood for some good loving, Rawls’ soulful, romantic two-fer “Slow Roll It” and “Motion of the Ocean” are comfortably tucked in a cozy blanket of slow-groove.  

Title track, “I Miss Otis Clay”, brings a tear to my eye, as I listen to him sing about missing his friend.    In 2014, Rawls and Clay released the album Soul Brothers, which won the 2015 Blues Blast Award for Soul Album of the Year.  Clay sadly passed away from a heart attack in 2016.

The bar has once again been set for Soul-Blues.  I Miss Otis Clay, is my favorite Johnny Rawls album to date.        

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For more information about the artist, visit this website.. www.johnnyrawlsblues.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, November 2, 2019

#415 : Hudspeth & Taylor - Folie a Deux




2019 – Hudspeth & Taylor
By Phillip Smith; Nov.2, 2019

Folie a deux, the title of the debut album from guitarist Brandon Hudspeth (Levee Town) and singer/percussionist Jaisson Taylor, is defined as “delusion or mental illness shared by two people in close association”.  In the case of Hudspeth & Taylor, it represents their passion for music.  The two have known each other for almost twenty years, although they never formally collaborated until 2015 when they began their journey playing as a blues duo in Kansas City.  I’ve been aware of Hudspeth since reviewing Levee Town’s album Pages of Paperwork in 2011 for BluesWax, and hold high regard for his work as a guitarist and songwriter.  Taylor’s singing and versatile percussional stylings are most impressive.       

The acoustic slide on “Big Fat Hairy Lie” sounds terrific with the gently rolling rhythm. I love the song “Low Down Dealer Man” and the instrumental showmanship Hudspeth unveils on guitar.  Taylor sets a wonderfully earnest tone for the song with his singing.  Their cover of the late Little Hatch’s “Rock With Me Baby” is a down-home delight.  The playful melody on “Candy Man” is quick to capture my attention, as Taylor sings about a nefarious crime and its consequences.  Hudspeth’s smokin’ slide guitar, and Taylor’s blues-soaked vocals bring the album to the close with “Daddy Baby”.  It’s a fantastic song, and sounds great.

Folie a Deux is a gem of an acoustic blues album.  I really hope to hear more from Hudspeth & Taylor.  

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