Blues Bytes

Surprise

January 2021

Dave Keller
You Get What You Give

Tastee-Tone Records

Dave Keller

Dave Keller has a sterling reputation as a very fine blues/soul singer and guitarist with multiple releases in his name. But with his latest release, You Get What You Give (Tastee-Tone Records), Keller has significantly raised the bar for all future albums. He cut the 13 recordings featured here with the help of 11 special guests, with every cut being outstanding. No throwaways here, folks. There's also a delightful diversity of music featured. The backing band is tight and Keller's melodic voice blends well with all of his guests. While the release date was in 2020, I didn't get a copy until very early in 2021 so I will need to squeeze it into the final draft of my list of top albums for last year.

The album opens with one of my favorite cuts, "One More Tear," a duet with Annika Chambers that features plenty of soulful horns. "That Thing We Do" gets funky as Carly Harvey joins Keller with her raspy, soulful vocals, and Keller also shows off his guitar mastery on this one. He shows impressive vocal range when harmonizing with Annie Mack on the soul/blues gem, "You Get What You Give."

"The Evil That Men Do" brings in four guest singers (Trudy Lynn, Annika Chambers, Annie Mack, Johnny Rawls), each handling a verse while Keller sings the opening and closing stanzas. There's limited instrumentation, giving room for Ira Friedman's tasteful piano accompaniment to stand out. It's a simple arrangement but highly effective. We hear more of a snaky blues sound when Joe Louis Walker joins Keller and the band on "Scratchin' At Your Door." I was especially impressed with the falsetto vocals from JLW, and the number concludes with nice slide guitar from Chris Robertson.

Trudy Lynn returns for co-vocals on the spooky late-night blues, "Your Kind Of Fool," a number that's also highlighted by the unsung hero of this album, Ira Friedman, who contributes to the mood with jazzy piano accompaniment. Dawn Tyler Watson harmonizes with Keller on a soulful gospel number, "God Is Love, Love Is Everything," with plenty of horns providing the big sound for this one. The mood changes with "The Spark," a slow inspirational blues with Keller singing and Friedman providing the only backing with his superb piano playing. Sometimes simple is better, and that's the case here.

We get another song with sparse instrumentation on a Latin-ish blues, "Make It To Tomorrow," with Chad Hollister sharing vocals with Keller while the latter plays acoustic guitar and the former provides the beat on the cajon. Johnny Rawls returns on vocals for the straight blues, "Land Of The Lonely." The album goes totally old-school gospel on Thomas Dorsey's "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," with Brother Bob White being the only vocalist while also playing piano. It's stirring. Katie Henry joins forces on the soulful blues number, "The Kiss I Want," featuring strong blues guitar from Keller.

The album closes with something quite different, as Toussaint St. Negritude gifts us with a marvelous spoken word number, "I'm Gonna Let It Shine," accompanied simply by Keller on National steel guitar and harmonica. What a powerful ending to a fantastic set of music!

There's not a weak cut to be found on You Get What You Give. Keller had a brilliant idea with this concept and it's impeccably executed. This one's a keeper!

 --- Bill Mitchell

 

 

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