Saturday, December 12, 2020

#476 : Kevin Burt - Stone Crazy

 


2020 – Gulf Coast Records

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 12, 2020

 

It’s hard to believe two years have passed since Kevin Burt released his break-out album, Heartland & Soul.  That was such a splendid recording.  Stone Crazy, his very latest album is plumb phenomenal, built of songs focusing on his own experiences in life, love, and relationships.  Burt proves once again, he is a superfecta of entertainment, with his unique soulful vocals, harmonica mastery, insightful songwriting, and delicate guitar styling.  This time around, Burt is working with Mike Zito and his label Gulf Coast Records.  Zito not only produced the album, but also appears on guitar, along with Doug Byrkit on bass guitar, Matthew Johnson on drums, Lewis Stephens on keys, and Jimmy Carpenter on saxophone.

With an enormous blast of juicy blues harp from Burt, the record opens with the infectious groove of “I Ain’t Got No Problem With It”.  From this moment, I am hooked.  I love the swampy slide guitar and harp combo on “Rain Keeps Coming Down”.  This is pure blues, and it sounds fantastic. 

Burt goes into troubadour-mode with title-track love ballad “Stone Crazy”.  The song glistens with heart-felt soul.  With one exception, this album consists of all original songs written by Burt.  That exception is a of the Bill Withers’ flip side to his “Lean on Me” single “Better Off Dead”.  Burt takes this funky-yet-intense, down-hearted song and definitely makes it his own.

The record comes to a deep and heady conclusion with the poignant “Got To Make a Change”.  Burt’s performance is passionate and reflective.  Stone Crazy is definitely an album you’ll want to own.

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For more information about the artist, visit this website:  http://kevinburtmusic.com/

 

 

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  


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 5, 2020

#475 : Hamilton Loomis - This Season

 


2020 – Ham-Bone Records

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 5, 2020

Hamilton Loomis’ 2012 DVD Live at the Hub was the first and one of the few DVDs I have ever reviewed.  This was for Blues Revue Magazine’s online zine called Blues Wax. I remember being so impressed with his music.  Then in 2018, I reviewed his Basics album.  Again, his music made a big impression.  With This Season, his ninth release, Loomis fulfills his dream of doing a Christmas album, and I’m enjoying it tremendously.  Joining Loomis in the studio for the making of this ten-track holiday album is bassist Mike Meade and drummer Brannon McLeod.

Loomis brings five original songs to the table on this album, each with a fresh bluesy imprint.  Loomis sings of faith, hope, and healing as he opens with the title track “This Season”.  As a native of Galveston, Texas, Loomis certainly has a different perspective when it comes to Christmas time.  “Another South TX Christmas” is a boat-load of fun served in a Texas blues fashion.  There’s a cool and hip vibe to Loomis and the music he creates.  Capturing that character of him so brilliantly is the song “Underneath the Tree” with its swinging rhythm.

I love the mellow, relaxed funk he splashes on the blues-soaked “Lay Around and Love”.  With piano and harmonica accompaniment, this cover of Lari White’s 1993 single is one of my favorites.  He poignantly ends the record with an absolutely beautiful performance of “Oh Holy Night”. 

Hamilton Loomis brings contemporary Christmas albums to a new level.  It’s a record I can listen to anytime.   


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

 

#474 : Robert Connely Farr - Country Supper

 


2020 – Robert Connely Farr

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 5, 2020

From the first listen to Robert Connely Farr’s 2019 Dirty South album, I was hooked.  His music is deep and infectious, his words are sung with an honest conviction.  Mentored in the Bentonia, Mississippi Style of Delta Blues by Jimmy “Duck” Holmes (2021 Grammy Award Nominee for Traditional Blues Album), Farr now resides in Vancouver, BC.  His latest album, Country Supper, stays the course with a batch of sixteen absolutely killer tracks.  Farr, on guitar and vocals, is joined by guitarist Jon Wood, bassist Tom Hillifer aka ”Tommy Ribs”, and drummer Jay Bundy Johnson.

“Cypress Grove”, the classic Skip James song gets the album going with its slow ominous groove.  The sound of Farr’s slide guitar is beautifully haunting.  Once this is concluded, Farr ferociously rips into Leo Bud Welch’s “Girl in the Holler”.  The adrenalized beat Johnson throws down on this song is fabulous.  Farr elegantly covers two songs by Jimmy “Duck” Holmes as well: “Train Train” and “Must’ve Been the Devil”.  Heart-wrenching and performed with a finesse, they are indeed a respectable pair of tributes to his friend and mentor.  

Farr’s original blues compositions deserve highest accolades.  “Water’s Rising” vividly paints a dire scene on the canvas of a dark and ominous melody.  I love the rolling and unstoppable groove on “Cadillac Problems”.  With a thunderous bassline from Tommy Ribs, the intoxicating “Can’t Be Satisfied” leaves me in an unsettled state of impending doom.  Like a locomotive barreling down the tracks, “Bad Bad Feeling” barrels down a hypnotic groove laced with a slab of psychedelic guitar licks.  it’s so damn good.  

Country Supper is a downright gem of an album.  Farr’s music truly deserves to be heard. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website: robertconnelyfarr.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 28, 2020

#473 : Bob Corritore’s “From the Vaults” Series

 



  • Dave Riley & Bob Corritore - Travelin’ the Dirt Road
  • The Kid Ramos / Bob Corritore – Phoenix Blues Sessions
  • Henry Gray & Bob Corritore Sessions - Vol: 2 Cold Chills

2020 – Vizztone  

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 28, 2020


I can’t express how excited I am about this new “From the Vaults” blues series from Bob Corritore on Vizztone.  The first three releases out of the gate pair the harmonica master with Dave Riley, Kid Ramos, and Henry Gray. 

Dave Riley & Bob Corritore’s 2007 album Travelin’ the Dirt Road consists not only of the original tracks, but has two additional previous unreleased songs as well.  Recorded over three sessions from 2005 to 2006, this album features Riley on guitar, Corritore on harmonica, Johnny Rapp on guitar, Matt Bishop on piano, Dave Riley Jr. on bass, and Tom Coulson on drums.   

The album nicely rolls the album in with “I’m Not Your Junkman”, a tune written by John Weston, Riley’s friend and former bandmate.  Warm vocals and a fascinating guitar performance capture my attention on “Let’s Have Some Fun Tonight”.  Corritore is such fabulous side-man.  His harp playing never takes a back seat, and in tracks like “My Baby’s Gone”, it completely makes the song.  This one sounds so great, especially with Bishop busting out his barrelhouse piano.  “Voodoo Woman, Voodoo Man” is a double dose of slow-brewed blues, and I love every bit of it.   

The Kid Ramos/Bob Corritore album Phoenix Blues Sessions is a collection of collaborations between the two from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s.  Originally released as a fund raiser during Kid’s cancer scare in 2012, this re-release features three previously unreleased songs, and an alternate take on “Natural Ball”.  With Ramos on guitar and Corritore on harp, Chico Chism take the reigns on drums with Paul Thomas as the bassist and Johnny Rapp on guitar or mandolin.  Vocalists consists of Nappy Brown (1929 – 2008), Henry Gray, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame (1925 – 2014), Big Pete Pearson, and Dr. Fish.  Additional musicians consist of bassist Marrio Moreno and pianist Tom Mahon.

I love the twangy sound of Ramos’ guitar on “Come on In”.  This classic from Harum Scarums (Big Bill Broonzy, Mozelle Alderson, Thomas A. Dorsey) features Henry Gray on piano and vocals.  Corritore delightfully ushers Eddie Boyd’s “24 Hours” in on harp, with Dr. Fish delivering a timeless vocal performance.  I love the raw infectious groove on “No More Doggin’” with Chief Schabutti Guilliame commandeering the microphone.  This is absolutely fabulous.  Ramos’ slide guitar is captivating on Little Milton’s “Possum in My Tree”.  Featuring Big Pete Pearson on vocals and Mahon on piano, its such a terrific cover.             

Henry Gray & Bob Corritore’s Sessions Vol: 2 Cold Chills features recordings made between 1996 and 2016.  With Gray on piano and vocals, Corritore on harp, and guitarist Johnny Rapp on most of the songs, the list of musicians who are a part of this is rock solid.  A partial list of them include, Robert Lockwood Jr, (1915 – 2006) Bob Margolin, Eddie Taylor Jr. (1972 – 2019), Tail Dragger, Jimi “”Primetime” Smith, Chief Schabuttie Gilliame (1925 – 2014) , Illinois Slim, Johnny Burgin, Chris James, and Kirk Fletcher.   

Eddie Taylor Jr. brings his vocals and guitar prowess along with guitarist Illinois Slim for a wonderful cover of Jimmy Roger’s “Going Away Baby”.  This is what the blues is all about.  Corritore’s harp-playing is music for the soul.  “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin appears with guitar in hand on “Ain’t No Use”.  Gray’s piano performance is flawless and his vocal performance draws me right in.  Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ is a big ball of fun, with Jimi “Primetime” Smith singing.  Bassist Troy Sandow and drummer Marty Dodson keep the party going on the rhythm section.  The Chief brings one of his own songs, “Javelina Jamboree” to the album in full-on shindig style.  Being from Arkansas, I’m more likely to refer to these gnarly beasts as a razorback.  Burgin tears it up on guitar while Gray pounds the hell out of the keys, and Corritore rips it up on harp.  It’s a good time for sure.  It’s so cool to hear the legendary Robert Lockwood Jr. play guitar on “Mother in Law Blues” too.                

This “From the Vaults” series is certainly one to keep your eyes on.  This is a must listen for serious blues fans.  These first three albums are an absolute treasure.  I honestly can’t wait to see what Corritore has in store next. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : bobcorritore.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 21, 2020

#472 : Billy Jones & Delta Blues Outlaws

 


2020 – Delta Blues Records

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 21, 2020


Hailing from North Little Rock, Arkansas, Billy Jones brings a boat-load of excellence and authenticity to his brand of blues.   As a child, wanting to be like B.B. King and Elmore James, he would sneak out and head to a dangerous juke joint nearby just to listen to the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Bobby Blue Bland.  These influences, along with his guitar prowess and soulful vocals, make for a refreshing, attention-grabbing combination.  His new album Billy Jones & Delta Blues Outlaws boasts fifteen terrific songs totaling seventy minutes of musical brilliance.

Opening with “The One You Need”, Jones delivers a wonderful performance of slow, soul-blues.  Punched up with horns, and keys, the song shines bright.  From the first note, “Liar” bursts out the gate, I am gobsmacked.  Jones treats the listener with a ferocious bombardment of psychedelic blues guitar as he sings out a rhythmic serving of his poetic verse.  He’s such a badass on guitar, I enjoy hearing him tear it up on “Love Nobody Else” and “I’m Yo Freak”.  The funky Stax-influenced rhythm on “A Man and a Half” puts a big smile on my face.  This is definitely a feel-good song.   

Jones doles out a serious dose of delta blues on “Alligator Farm”.  It sounds great!  Accompanied with a side of organ, he brings it on a delightfully smooth downhome blues tune called “Biggest House in Town”.     

By all means, if you get a chance to check out the music of Billy Jones & Delta Blues Outlaws, give them a listen.  You won’t regret it all.

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Liar 



The One You Need


Saturday, November 14, 2020

#471 : Sonny Green - Found! One Soul Singer



2020 – Little Village Foundation

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 14, 2020


Sonny Green, a 77-year old soul singer based in the Los Angeles area, has been performing for over forty years.  He recorded eight 45’s in the Sixties and Seventies, however his latest recording Found! One Soul Singer is his first full length album, and it’s fantastic.  Recorded and produced by Kid Andersen, at his famed Greaseland Studios, the record features Andersen on guitar, Jim Pugh on B3, Chris Burns on piano, Endre Tarczy on bass, Ronnie Smith and D’mar on drums, Mariachi Mestizo on violin, and a stellar horn section comprised of Sax Gordon, Terry Hanck, Aaron Lington, Jeff Lewis, and Mike Rinta,  

As soon as the horns kick in, and Sonny’s smokey vocals roll out on “I’m So Tired”, I am all-in.  It’s certainly a rare treat to find music that stands out like this these days.  “If Walls Could Talk” is full of life and enriched with a funky rhythm and big band sound.  Andersen sweetens the song with his stylish guitar licks.  Sonny’s performance of Willie Nelson’s “Are You Sure” is dripping with pure emotion.  Settled in the blues and seasoned with funk, “Cupid Must Be Stupid” is fun and delightful.  Tarczy’s baseline is absolutely groovy, and I love Rinta’s trombone accompaniment.  I also dig the Seventies funky disco-vibe on “Back For a Taste of Your Love”.  Sonny’s vocal prowess shines as he peppers the song with high-pitched growls.  For bonus points, Alabama Mike makes a guest vocal appearance on “Trouble” to join Sonny in a slow, soul-blues duet.  Written by Alabama Mike, this is the first time the song had been recorded.  The blues absolutely pours out of Andersen’s guitar, and it sounds great.   

Found! One Soul Singer is a fabulous recording.  I’m so glad Little Village Foundation helped bring this album to fruition. 

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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 7, 2020

#470 : The Boxmasters - Light Rays



2020 – KeenTone Records

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 7, 2020

It’s always a delight to hear new music from The Boxmasters.  With Light Rays, the tenth release from J.D. Andrew and Bud Thornton, the band delivers a dozen fabulous brand-new songs.  Each of them, written and performed with a deep appreciation for the early years of rock and roll. 

Beginning as a song from Bud to his daughter, “Breath Easy” is a lovely and poppy, feel-good anthem dedicated to parenthood.  It is a great song to open with and segues quite nicely into “Satellite Guy”, which I absolutely adore.  “Satellite Guy” has a sort of REM meets Big Star vibe, filled with infectious guitar riffs.  The captivating beat sounds great with a fabulous dose of organ on the side.  Doused with the delectable twang of Andrew’s guitar, “Thirteen Days” becomes this heart-racing ballad about a looming deadline for love.  It’s such a terrific song.

There’s a definite air of ominousity about title-track “Light Rays”.  Innocently beginning with this stellar line, “Please keep the Beatles album that I gave you.  Just like me some night it might save you.”, this wonderfully dark crooner song, soon takes a delusional stalkery-like direction.  It’s one of my favorites.  “Drag” catches my attention quickly too, with its Blondie-esque intro.  It perfectly captures the inner feelings that surface when I’m around strangers in a formal setting.  I’m happy to meet them, but I’m also so very happy to leave.  Resurrecting the long-lost art of misfortunate love songs, Andrew and Bud bring us “Downey Girl”.  This tragic tale of a love lost in a helicopter crash, where lawnmower blades and ceiling fans spark haunted memories, is based on an actual event which happened in 1968.

Reminiscent of the variety of rock songs one would hear on AM radio in the Sixties, this record is a testament of the Boxmasters love for early rock.  Light Rays is such a splendid album, it truly shines. 

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 For more information about the artist, visit this website : theboxmasters.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, October 31, 2020

#469 : Muddy Manninen - River Flows

 


2020 – Presence Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 31, 2020

It has been almost three years since former Wishbone Ash guitarist Muddy Manninen released his debut solo album, Long Player.  That was an outstanding recording.  His follow-up album River Flows is another quite impressive piece of work.  Self-produced, this ten-track album features Melanie Denard, Gregg Sutton, Kev Moore, Richard Johnson, and special guest Simon Kirke (Free/Bad Company) on drums.

“Make Believe” ushers the album in with a fabulous dose of rock and roll.  Denard’s melodic lead vocals, and Manninen’s infectious riffs, pull me in for the long-haul.  The cherry on top, is listening to Muddy’s solo.  He’s such a skilled guitarist, and it’s a joy to hear him play.  Waking a fine line between blues and southern rock, Muddy breaks out a tasty dose of greasy lap-steel slide on “Hey You”, with Kev Moore singing.  Moore also appears on “Daytona Beach”, which has a jazzy Steely Dan vibe.  And that’s a very good thing.  I love the funky instrumental “The Wedge”.  The synths accompaniment from Tomi Malm gives it a warm texture.  Preceding the beautiful instrumental close on title track “River Flows”, Muddy poignantly brings us a poetic ode to time, with “The River”, with Denard on vocals.  Her voice is absolutely divine.

River Flows captures the essence of Seventies album-rock, and it sounds so great. 

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : muddymanninen.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, October 24, 2020

#468 : Kurt Allen - Whiskey, Women & Trouble

 


2020 – Self-Released

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 24, 2020

 

One listen is all it took for Whiskey, Women & Trouble, the new album from Kansas City-based blues-rocker Kurt Allen, to quickly garner my attention.  Produced by Allen and Larry Gann, the record features ten solid all-original tunes with Allen on guitar and lead vocals, Lester Estelle Jr. on drums, Craig Kew on bass, Beaux Lux on keys and sax, Pete Carroll on trumpet, and Trevor Turla on trombone.

I love the dirty groove running through “Graveyard Blues”.  It’s infectious as hell and sounds so good with Allen’s gravelly vocals and wonderfully swampy slide.  It’s such a wonderful tune to start things off with.  “Watch Yo Step” is terrific too.  This Texas-style blues tune about infidelity is nicely topped with horns, and delivered via Estelle’s unescapable beat.  The tempo is lowered for a dreamy heart-felt performance on “How Long”.  It’s quite a remarkable track, and beautifully showcases Allen’s vocal range as well as his guitar mastery.  Title-track “Whiskey, Women & Trouble” certainly lightens the mood with a dance-friendly track dedicated to vice.  It’s just so fun to hear Allen play with the brass accompaniment.  For a very unexpected treat, Allen breaks some George Clinton style funk with an homage to soul food in “Funkalicious”.  I absolutely love this track.  It’s pure Seventies-style funk with extra gravy. 

Delving into rock, blues, soul, and funk but never losing direction, Allen’s Whiskey, Woman & Trouble is as solid as an album can get.  I’m already looking forward to hearing his follow up record.    

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : www.kurtallenmusic.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, October 17, 2020

#467 : John Nemeth - Stronger Than Strong


 

2020 – Nola Blue

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 17, 2020


Stronger Than Strong, the tenth album from Memphis-based bluesman John Nemeth, totally captivates me with its soulful songs, funky grooves, and buttery beats.  Recorded at Electraphonic Recording Studios in Memphis, this feel-good album features Nemeth with his road band, The Blue Dreamers, which consists of guitarist Jon Hay, drummer Danny Banks, and bassist Matt Wilson.   

Nemeth and The Blue Dreamers kick things off in a delicious and greasy fashion with “Come and Take It”.  I love this kind of dirty blues.  “Fountain of a Man”, immersed in that wonderful Saturday night juke joint spirit, immediately follows.  With a terrific driving beat from Banks, searing guitar from Hay, and a harmonica performance from Nemeth that cuts to the bone, this song makes me smile from ear to ear.  Starting from its opening twang-filled notes, I am all-in on “Throw Me in the Water”.  Nemeth’s delivery reminds me so much of the great John Fogerty as he belts this one out with all the qualities of a timeless classic.  Nemeth’s “Bars” is performed as pure southern soul.  His keen observations and wit take on the various kinds of bars, whether found on windows, or found on street corners.  His cover of Junior Parker’s “Sometimes” is pert-near hypnotic.  I could soak in this groove all day long.  Then for a funky finish, the record closes up shop in a wonderful Memphis-style shindig with “Sweep the Shack”.  It’s an incredible party song with a huge Stax influence.  

Stronger than Strong is definitely an album to take note of.  It is brilliant from beginning to end.            

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For more information about the artist, visit this website : johnnemeth.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, October 10, 2020

#466 : Anthony Gomes - Containment Blues

 


2020 – Up 2 Zero

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 10, 2020

Following up to his award-winning 2019 album, Peace, Love, & Loud Guitars, Anthony Gomes has master-minded another great album, Containment Blues.  This Covid-19 era blues album carries forward that level of excitement which comes with each of Gomes’ albums.  His smokey vocals, and guitar prowess shine on each of the eleven all-original tracks.  The lineup on this record consists of bassist Jacob Mreen, drummers Chris Whited and Bobby Stone Jr., and keyboardist Gabriel Crespo, along with Hector Ruano on harmonica, Paul Tooley on banjo, Margarita Chernova on violin, and Carolina Teruel on cello.

I love the unbridled energy released on the opening song “Make a Good Man (Wanna Be Bad)”.  It’s rhythm, served on a big plate of raw Texas-style blues is reminiscent of classic-era ZZ Top.  Gomes’ delivery is indeed top form and segues quite nicely to another favorite “Hell and Half of Georgia”.  The groove on this one is fabulously dirty and infectious.  A message is sent to misogynists in true rocking fashion as Gomes sings “Stop Calling Women Hoes and Bitches”.    

Shifting into balladeer mode, Gomes wears his emotions on his sleeves in the beautiful “This Broken Heart of Mine”.  The slow-cooked blues of “No Kinda Love” sounds fantastic.  With Ruano accompanying on harp, this one is comfort-food for the blues fan.  Gomes takes an interesting philosophical approach in “Let Love Take Care of Love”, a song he co-wrote with Billy Falcon about letting go. 

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Gomes for a while now, and I’m so glad to hear these new tracks from him.  His unique style of blues-rock continues to impress me more with every album he records, and Containment Blues is no exception.    


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








Related PhillyCheeze reviews and articles :


#379 : Anthony Gomes Live at the Redstone Room - March 2, 2019 - 


#371 : Anthony Gomes - Peace, Love & Loud Guitars -




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, October 3, 2020

#465 : Micke & Lefty (feat Chef) - Let the Fire Lead

 


2020 – Hokahey Records

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 3, 2020 

It’s been ten years since Micke Björklöf, Lefty Leppänen, and Chef recorded their last album “Up the Wall”.  Their brand-new album Let the Fire Lead fabulously celebrates their twentieth anniversary of making music together.  For the past several years this Finnish trio has been involved with other noteworthy musical projects as well.   Björklöf and Leppänen have been busy with their band Blue StripLeppänen also had been involved with his trio Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang.  Chef has been playing with The Lumberjacks, a band he co-founded in 2007.  Björklöf noted “We had a wakeup call  last summer when we realized that almost ten years had passed since the last album release.  We felt this could be now or never, so we booked the studio right away.”.  The album was then recorded at their home base in Finland.     

On National resonator guitar, Lefty takes the lead vocals on “Small Town Baby”, a spectacular blues-rocker with a driving rhythm and the gusto of U2.  Micke takes the mic on title-track “Let the Fire Lead”, a lovely and delightful song with Lefty on resonator and mandolin.  “Gotta See My Church” is an amazing spiritual.  Sung with a big bowlful of passion, and played with a fiery finesse, its heart-pounding bass and drums sets an ominous undertone.  Whimsically advocating the minimalist lifestyle, they sing less is more in “No Stuff is Good Enuff”.  The chorus is really infectious, and sets its hooks in quickly.        

There’s a lot of energy poured into their cover of Willie Dixon’s “Tell That Woman”.  With Micke on lead vocals, dobro, and percussion, Lefty on resonator guitar, and Chef on upright bass, the song absolutely cooks.  Their voices harmonize quite nicely while serving up the country blues of Big Bill Broonzy in their performance of “Big Bill Blues”.  I really like their cover of Robert Johnson’s “I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” too.  It is an absolute treat with guest lead vocalist Eero Raittinen.  Chef’s pounding bass-line adds a sense of intensity while Lefty rips it up on his National guitar.

Let the Fire Lead is an extraordinary album of blues and roots music delivered in a meticulous way and topped with wonderful three-part harmonies.  

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Related PhillyCheeze Reviews


Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – After the Flood

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/08/micke-bjorklof-blue-strip-after-flood.html

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2015/11/micke-bjorklof-blue-strip-aint-bad-yet.html

Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2018/08/348-micke-bjorklof-blue-strip.html

 

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Hale’s Pleasure Railway

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2014/09/southpaw-steel-n-twang-hales-pleasure.html

Southpaw Steel ‘n’ Twang – Stat(u)e of Mind

https://phillycheezeblues.blogspot.com/2016/01/southpaw-steel-n-twang-statue-of-mind.html

 


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