Who Is He?
I continue to be impressed by the number of
quality albums being released by younger blues artists,
reinforcing the idea that the blues will never die. The latest
young artist is 21-year-old St. Louis native Dylan Triplett,
with his debut album, "Who Is He?" (Vizz Tone) containing 10
solid cuts of blues and soul. Produced by The Phantom Blues
Band's Larry Fulcher, the album features a tight backing band as
well as notable special guests Christone "Kingfish" Ingram,
Johnny Lee Schell and Tru Born, among others.
Triplett's voice shows a maturity beyond his
years as he sings both blues and soul, with a touch of jazz
mixed in, and he also wrote two of the songs here.
Opening the disk is the somewhat explicit
"Barnyard Blues," a mid-tempo blues shuffle with Kingfish
sitting in on guitar. Part of that barnyard talked about in this
song is the rooster, also referred to as the cock, adding in
some double-entendre lines so you can probably guess why this
one comes with an airplay advisory. Up next is the title cut, a
cover of Bill Withers' excellent version, with Triplett even
coming in with Withers' gruff 'Dadgummit' at the appropriate
places. Great sax from Kyle Turner on this one.
"Brand New Day - Same Old Blues" is a Fulcher
original, a subtle blues with a slower tempo. Tru Born plays
eerie slide guitar while Schell accompanies on the National
guitar and Ryan Marquez contributes tasteful piano. We also hear
very fine background vocals from Kudisan Kai and Maxayn Lewis.
Sax player Joe Sublett kicks off another Fulcher original,
"Dance Of Love," with a soulful sax intro, giving this killer
song kind of a Motown sound.
Triplett's voice is especially strong on his own
blues shuffle, "Junkyard Dog," with really nice guitar solos
from Sean McDonald, leading into the other Triplett original,
"I'll Be There Waiting," a slow blues highlighted by the guitar
solos of Schell and a a foundation of sound provided by Mike
Finnigan's organ and horns from Sublett. Finnigan recently
passed away, so it's good to hear him here.
Jimmy McCracklin's "She Felt Too Good" is just
plain fun as Triplett is amazed by that woman who just keeps
tossing down beer after beer while also consuming a lot of food.
Art Wayne Pollard comes in with a strong sax solo on this
up-tempo stomper. The mood changes with "That's The Way Love
Is," a Marvin Gaye cover that gives Triplett the chance to show
that he may just be the next up-and-coming singer to woo all of
us. Kai and Lewis return to help out on vocals, while Marquez
contributes tasty electric piano.
Kingfish is back on guitar as Triplett shows his
nasty side on a Lonnie Brooks original, the mid-tempo blues
shuffle "Feels Good Doin' Bad." I'm not sure that any of us are
prepared for the way Triplett closes Who Is He?, as he
tackles the Miles Davis standard, "All Blues." Dr. Wayne Goins
almost steals the show with his guitar solos, but Triplett keeps
pace by paying tribute to Miles Davis with his jazzy scat
singing. A brilliant finish to an excellent debut album.
Someone just 21 putting out a debut album like
Who Is He? certainly has impressed me. I'm not really
going out on a limb by calling Dylan Triplett a rising blues
star. This album comes highly recommended, and I can't wait to
hear what's next from this young man.
--- Bill Mitchell