You Get What You Give
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
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
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