Blues Bytes


December 2016

Dave Keller
Right Back Atcha
Tastee-Tone Records

Dave Keller

Dave Keller’s new CD, Right Back Atcha (Tastee-Tone Records), finds the Vermont-based singer/guitarist in a different place than his previous release, the critically-acclaimed Soul Changes from 2013, both musically and personally. The previous CD, recorded in Memphis with Al Green’s original band, featured Keller trying to pick up the pieces of a broken relationship. The new release was recorded in his home state with his road-tested band, and finds him in a much better place in his life. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the songs themselves, all but one written or co-written by Keller, who also served as producer this time around.

The wonderful opening cut is the album’s lone cover, “It’s Time You Made Up Your Mind,” written by Darryl Carter, Don Bryant, and Earl Randle and recorded by Willie Clayton in 1974. Carter also teams up with Keller on the lovely ballad “Deeper Than The Eye Can See.” Keller’s originals are all winners, from “2 AM Talks” to “Forever Summer,” a tune about rekindling the feelings of first love that will bring back memories to anyone who ever experienced it. The funky title track is fueled by Jessica Friedman’s sax and lively vocals from Keller and backing vocalists Morgan Klarich and April Caspari.

Friedman, who plays alto and baritone sax, former Wilson Pickett sideman Joe Moore, and Terry Youk make up the Mo’ Sax Horns, and they play a prominent role in many of the tunes, including the soulful “Slow Train,” which features a masterful solo from Moore. “Circles” is a moody ballad highlighted by Keller’s impassioned vocal and guitar, along with co-writer Ira Friedman’s Hammond B3. Friedman’s superb work on the keys is a pleasure throughout. On the playful “She’s Just Katie,” Keller gives a shout-out to the new love in his life.

The upbeat and aptly-titled “Urgent (I’ll Give It All)” picks things up a notch or two, and “What’s It Gonna Take” is a stirring rocker with fiery vocals and guitar from Keller against a magnificent B3 backdrop. The winning ballad “Willing To Learn” includes another sax solo from Moore, and the gently swinging closer “You Make It Easy” is another tribute to Keller’s lady, to whom the album is dedicated.

Keller’s voice is usually what gets all the press, but his talents as a guitarist are just as formidable as his voice. His road band (Friedman – keyboards, Gary Lotspeich – bass, Brett Hoffman – drums) does a superlative job in support, and a couple of the songs also feature strings (Michael Close – cello, Paul Reynolds – violin, viola).

Right Back Atcha is an opportunity for listeners to hear this great artist at his best on his home turf, and to these ears, it’s his most satisfying release to date.

--- Graham Clarke
Read Graham's blog



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