Blues Bytes


December 2015

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Brothers In This World
Electro-Fi Records


Brothers In This World (Electro-Fi) from the Canadian group Blackburn is the disc that I look for every year --- the recording that comes out of the blue and knocks my ears back. The disc that begs the question – who are these guys? These four talented musicians, Duane, Robin, Cory and Brooke Blackburn, and their bassist bud Andrew Stewart, are the most soulful/funky unit to come down the pike in a while.

Lead vocalist/organist Duane has a wholly appealing whiskey-soaked, or maybe coffee-soaked, voice that drives the groove-laden opener, "My Train." Brooke takes lead vocal duties on the following "Good Woman." His guitar work is stellar and chases his growling vocals. Duane brings it back on "Holla Back" (“I’m your man/yes I am/I’m your man/holla back as soon as you can”). The brass support is subtle but effective.

On "Walking In New New Orleans," the strut of the New Orleans meets Memphis is mesmerizing. (“I was born in the North/raised on reel-to-reel”). And, dig the piano. Duane sings, “The blues overtakes me” and you know the bug is contagious. "Railroad Song," again with Duane on lead vocals, features Brooke’s funky chunky guitar work. This is a booty shaker of the first order.

"Traces" has a Latin groove. Organ and percussion propel this, reminiscent of classic Santana. I Can’t Take It (I Miss Your Smile) is an AWB-meets-the-JBs style romp that features Brooke’s jaw-dropping wah wah guitar work and Duane’s ever-present organ. As is the case throughout, Duane’s raspy vocals are soulful. The rhythm team of drummer Cory and bassist Stewart is as rock steady as you’ve heard. Robert’s backing vocals are ever-present.

Their version of BB King’s "Why I Sing The Blues," the only cover song here, with a killer trombone from Ted Peters, has a mix of superb vocals and a funky Kansas City backbeat. Duane’s "White Lightning" features his fantastic B3 over a knock out horn section. The organ and hand claps are deep in the Jimmy Smith school.

Somewhere between the Holmes Brothers, Neville Brothers and War, the vocals, the instrumentation and the brilliant compositions and arrangements make this disc one of the standouts of the year. Whew!

--- Mark E. Gallo


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