Friday, February 13, 2015

New Blues For You - Winter, 2015 Edition (Part 2)

This week marks Friday Blues Fix's FIFTH anniversary!  It's been a a lot of fun sharing my love for the blues with all of you.  I'm looking forward to continuing to do so for many years to come, so I hope you continue to come by every week for a visit (and also check back to our previous post to see what you might have missed).  There are several big posts in the works that you will not want to miss.

Right now, I am working feverishly to finish up a new set of CD reviews for the next issue of Blues Bytes, which should be out in a week or two.  I thought I would pick up where I left off last week and give you a sneak peek at five more new releases that should definitely be on your radar.  For more details, check out the upcoming issue of Blues Bytes.

Robin Banks - Modern Classic (self-released):  The talented Miss Banks teams up with Duke Robillard on her first release since 2010.  Robillard plays guitar on these sessions and brings along his regular band mates, plus the Roomful of Blues Horns.  The songs, all written by Banks, range from jump blues, urban blues, jazz, country, and some really nice Memphis-styled soul.  She has a wonderfully diverse vocal style and moves from sultry to soulful pretty effortlessly.  Great songs, too.  Robillard adds his always impeccable guitar work and the band is spot-on as well, regardless of what genre Banks is working in.  This is an entertaining release and, hopefully, these two will continue to work together for years to come.

Mike Osborn - In The Dog House (Je Gagne Records):  guitarist/singer Osborn started out playing country and rock before moving to blues/rock after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan shortly after the gutiarist's untimely death.  This is Osborn's second release and it is a pretty solid mix of blues, rock, and country.  The Bay Area-based Osborn has guitar chops to burn and a voice that blurs the line between the three above-mentioned genres.  With strong songwriting, outstanding support from his backing band, and Osborn's considerable talents, this is a disc that will appeal to blues, rock, and country music fans.

Brad Absher & Swamp Royale - Lucky Dog (Montrose Records):  Absher has been around the music scene for over twenty years.  Born in Houston, but raised in Lake Charles, LA, he was influenced by the music of both areas.....the swamp pop sounds of Lake Charles and the blues and soul coming from Houston.  He competed in the 2014 IBC and has built a pretty sizable following in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S.  This album, his fifth, shows why with it's mix of strong originals mixing R&B, country, gospel, and blues with several great wide-ranging covers of songs originally done by artists as diverse as William Bell, Bill Withers, and Allen Toussaint.  For blues fans who dig Delbert McClinton, Brad Absher has a lot of the same qualities, plus he plays some serious guitar to boot.

Tinsley Ellis - Tough Love (Heartfixer Music):  In 2013, Ellis formed his own label, Heartfixer Music, and has released three of his best albums since then.  Ellis' guitar has always been the feature attraction of his performances, but on Tough Love he really outdoes himself on vocals, showing an impressive versatility moving between blues, rock, and soul.  He even breaks out a harmonica on one track.  He also penned all ten of the tracks, which are uniformly strong.  To me, since he began recording on his own label, maybe Ellis is following his own muse more......he seems to be leaning more to the blues side of blues-rock, and proving to be more than up to the task.  Any of Ellis' 17 recordings are worth hearing, but Tough Love stands as his best album to date.

Pete Herzog & Dennis Walker - Waiting for the Rain (self-released):  You heard FBF rave about Herzog's previous release, Steel Guitar:  A Blues Opera, a couple of years back.  Well, prepare for more raving.  On this follow-up, Herzog has joined forces with producer/songwriter/bass player Dennis Walker.  You may not be familiar with Dennis Walker, but he has produced and written some modern blues classics with Robert Cray, B.B. King, Joe Louis Walker, Lowell Fulson, Frankie Lee, Phillip Walker, Maria Muldaur, Lonesome Sundown, Philipp Fankhauser, and Ted Hawkins, picking up multiple Grammys and Blues Music Awards in the process.  Walker has penned some new songs and he's found a great interpreter in singer/guitarist Herzog, whose warm, expressive vocals and dynamic acoustic guitar fits Walker's tunes like a nice, comfortable sweater.  Recorded during the 2014 Oregon drought (which explains the multiple "rain" tracks on the disc), this whole set sounds like two buddies getting together to play a few of their favorite songs and is perfect for acoustic blues fans.

More new releases to come in a few weeks.....

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