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June 2021

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Order these featured albums today:

Deb Ryder

Donna Herula

Big Daddy Wilson

New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers

Al Basile

Hurricane Ruth

Rick Berthod

Eddie 9V

CD Woodbury

Jackie Neal tribute

Walter Broes and the Mercenaries


Deb RyderDeb Ryder has been on the blues scene for quite some time, but her latest album, Memphis Moonlight (Vizz Tone), has grabbed me like none before. Like her past albums, this one rocks the blues as she shouts out vocals with an edge of roughness and a lot of power. She's not only a strong-voiced singer but also a gifted songwriter, having written all 13 songs on Memphis Moonlight. She's joined by an all-star cast of musicians, with notable names like Los Lobos stars Steve Berlin and David Hidalgo, all three of the Delgado Brothers, Ronnie Earl, and Alastair Greene. Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel, this album shows that Deb Ryder is ready to take the next step forward in her blues career.

Ryder's voice absolutely soars on the first cut, the mid-tempo soulful blues, "I'm Coming Home," with plenty of horns. This one just absolutely cooks, as does the equally raucous "Hold On," with blues harmonica from Pieter Van Der Pluijm. Ryder gives us the sound advice that we all just need to hold on and wait out the bad times we've all been experiencing.

Greene does one of his two guest appearances on "These Hands," contributing very nice slide guitar while Ryder puts more bass in her voice as she sings about everything her hands have done. everything her eyes have seen, every feeling her heart has experienced, and every sound her voice has emitted. Greene and his slide are back later on the album on the rather unique "Devil's Credit Line," on which Ryder sings about pushing everything to the edge and how the devil is going to take her in the end. More stellar harmonica by Van Der Pluijm on both of these numbers.

Ryder shows she is capable of handling a slow blues on "Love Is Gone," with subtle and tasty guitar from Ronnie Earl. She later sings at the same tempo on a ballad, pleading her blues on "Most of All," with Earl making his second appearance and a strong gospel-like chorus contributing to the power of the number.

The title cut gets an acoustic treatment, with Johnny Lee Schell playing both guitar and tambourine on a song that wouldn't be out of place on just about any urban street corner. "Standing at the Edge" gets more of a jazzy treatment on a exquisite blues shuffle, especially considering the monster B3 solo we hear from Mike Finnigan and strong horn work from sax player Joe Sublet and trumpeter Mark Pender.

Another favorite is the Cajun/conjunto-style stomper, "Second Chances," with the East L.A. bunch (Hidalgo, Berlin and the Delgados) all wrapped in, highlighted by Hidalgo's accordion. This song will remain in your memory banks for quite some time.

Memphis Moonlight is a keeper, and another step forward in the blues career of Deb Ryder. Her music is smokin' hot!

--- Bill Mitchell

Donna HerulaOne of the side effects of the recent pandemic has been an increase in the number of solo/duo recordings with less production and backing instrumentation, especially with stuff that could be recorded at home. While that's not necessarily the case with Chicago singer / guitarist Donna Herula, since she headed to North Carolina to record the self-released Bang At The Door, this fine album still nicely fits into that groove that we've been hearing over the last year. There are just a handful of backing musicians behind Herula, including her husband, Tony Nardiello, playing his Gibson guitar on a couple of tracks, but this is undoubtedly Herula's show from start to finish.

If you like the sound of a slide on vintage guitars, then you are going to love the music here, because Herula pulls out the slide on just about every number. She's good at what she does, too, and sings with a pleasant yet often forceful voice.

To begin this review I'll go right to the album's last cut, Willie Johnson's "The Soul Of A Man," because this was the number that I chose to play on my radio show in debuting the album. It's very soulful and spiritual, with plenty of solid slide riffs. Another highlight in the same vein is Herula's cover of Bukka White's "Fixin' To Die," with absolutely amazing slide guitar on a 1935 National Steel Triolian. This is a pure emotion, especially with White's frequent references to his children watching him die. At one point, Herula sings, "... I know I was born to die, but I hate to leave my children cry ..."

Most of the songs here are Herula originals, with a strong one being "Not Lookin' Back," which has our star opening the number with Hawaiian-style resonator guitar before later trading the spotlight with pianist Doug Hammer. The opening title cut is another creative original, with Herula singing about that man who keeps coming around and trying to get in to see her. There's plenty of energy here, and Herula eventually tells that intruder to not come around any more.

One of the more creative original compositions is "Movin' Back Home," a country blues in which she laments having to move back in with her parents due to financial hardships. What's interesting is that her old room is just like she left it, complete with a Bert & Ernie poster, a Snoopy blanket, a Rubik's Cube, vinyl records scattered around, and a bed in which she no longer fits. I love it! She's encountering a different issue on "Who's Been Cookin' In My Kitchen," finding out that some other woman has been preparing meals for her man, but in the end she takes control of the situation, all framed with Herula's wonderful fingerpicking guitar.

The last cover version is a rendition of Lucinda Williams' "Jackson," a pleasant slow tune as Herula backs Nardiello's vocals with her tasteful guitar picking.

Bang At The Door is really growing on me the more I listen to it. There's plenty more than what I mentioned, but trust me when I saw it's all very good blues. I'm digging all 14 cuts, and I strongly believe that you will, too. I had never heard of Donna Herula before this album showed up in my mailbox, but I'm sure glad it did. She's now on my "A" list of acoustic blues artists.

--- Bill Mitchell

Big Daddy WilsonI've had Deep In My Soul (Ruf Records) by North Carolina soul/blues singer Big Daddy Wilson (aka Wilson Blount) on my pile of albums to review for quite some time, and for some reason it kept slipping down the queue. He's a very fine singer, possessing a deep voice with just a hint of charcoal to it. Perhaps I didn't get it done before because while there's some good stuff here, not all of the music on this album got me excited. And it should have, with the recording taking place in the legendary FAME studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and produced by Jim Gaines. The always outstanding guitarist Laura Chavez is just one of the many fine musicians backing Wilson on the disk. It's just that not everything here brought out the pure pleasure that good soulful blues is supposed to do, with some of the recordings sounding too formulaic for my tastes. I sometimes use the term "schmaltzy" to describe songs like this, and I found myself writing that term several times in my notes.

There are some really good songs here, starting with the one that continually runs through my head since I played it on one of my recent radio shows. "Crazy World" is a slow blues, with more force and emotion in Wilson's vocals than we hear elsewhere, and it's complemented nicely by subtly tasteful guitar from Chavez. I'll go out on a limb and say that this song alone is worth the price of the whole album. Another very strong soulful number, "Deep in My Soul" pretty much describes where Wilson is reaching down to get the emotion here, while Chavez gets a bit funkier on the guitar parts. Another winner.

"I Know (She Said)" is pure southern blues like many of the classic Malaco recordings, with plenty of horns and female background singers while Wilson sings praises for his woman, especially pointing out how she makes him feel with her good old-fashioned loving, not to mention her cooking that includes neckbone stew and apple pie.

Wilson closes the album with a very short, heartfelt gospel number, "Couldn't Keep it To Myself," with the only backing being acoustic guitar and a very fine male chorus.

I want to hear more from Big Daddy Wilson, because I think there's a better album inside of him waiting to come out. In the meantime, I'll listen to Deep In My Soul for the highlights.

--- Bill Mitchell

New Moon Jelly RollAs promised, we now have the second collection from the New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers 2007 session, appropriately entitled Volume 2 (Stony Plain Records). The players included Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars (the session organizers), along with their father Jim Dickinson, Charlie Musselwhite, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Jimbo Mathus. Volume 2 offers more of the same as Volume 1, a roots music fan’s delight mixingn blues classics with well-crafted originals from Musselwhite, Hart, and Mathus.

There’s little, if any, difference in quality between the two sets. Musselwhite takes the lead for a pair of his own songs, the loping opener “Blues For Yesterday” and the mesmerizing “Black Water,” which paints a stunningly vivid picture of the Mississippi both lyrically and musically. Hart rips through a rowdy take of Doug Sahm’s “She’s About A Mover” and his own “Millionaire Blues (If Blues Was Money),” a wonderful country blues that pulls out all the stops (we need a new recording from Mr. Hart soon, please). Mathus’ “Searchlight (Soon In The Morning)” sounds like vintage Chicago blues and his salacious old school “Greens and Ham” is a lot of fun.

The elder Dickinson, who passed away a couple of years after this session, takes the mic for four tunes --- Charlie Mingus’ “Oh Lord, Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me,” which manages to be downhearted and boisterous at the same time, the Junior Wells standard, “Messin’ With The Kid,” which provides a wonderful showcase for Musselwhite’s masterful harmonica, Jimmy Reed’s “Can’t Stand To See You Go,” featuring some great barrelhouse piano, and a somber, slow-burning read of the Mississippi Sheiks’ “Blues Is A Mighty Bad Feeling,” which closes the album.

Luther Dickinson, who along with drummer Cody Dickinson and bassists Chris Chew and Paul Taylor provide superb musical support throughout, gets a moment in the spotlight with a killer version of Earl Hooker’s instrumental, “Blue Guitar.”

Simply put, if you already have Volume 1, you must have Volume 2 if you don’t have it already. If you haven’t listened to the New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers yet, you’re missing out on some of the most down-and-dirty, rough-and-ragged Mississippi blues recorded in the past couple of decades.

--- Graham Clarke

Al BasileAl Basile’s latest release, Last Hand (Sweetspot Records), is the story of a May/December romance told from the man’s perspective as he deals with aging, insecurity, reassurance, and eventually, despair. Basile, as usual, penned all of the songs, but he produced this release himself for the first time, keeping things pretty simple. He’s backed by Duke Robillard’s trio (Bruce Bears – piano/organ, Brad Hallen – bass, and Mark Teixeira – drums), and only plays his cornet on two of the 12 tracks. His vocals tell the tale quite effectively, conveying all the above-mentioned emotions perfectly.

As the story begins with “It Ain’t Broke,” while our hero still has confidence and self-assurance he’s reaching an age where he doesn’t seem to be able to attract the attention of the fairer sex (“Invisible Man”). However, he meets a younger woman who seems interested, but he doesn’t want to get his feelings hurt (“Don’t Toy With Me”) and eventually rejects her advances and is surprised when she seems genuinely hurt (“What Would You Be Doing?”). He decides to give in, soon falling in love, and hopefully is in it for the long haul (“I Could Get Used To This” and “Don’t”).

Not wanting to reveal the whole story, let’s just say that things get rocky along the way as concern for his significant other’s long-term future takes over and then doubt and insecurity, threatening the relationship’s future. A host of emotional twists and turns run throughout the second half of the disc, leading to an unexpected, gut-wrenching conclusion which will leave some listeners emotionally drained, especially if they’ve lived through a similar circumstance.

If you’re familiar with Basile as a composer, you already know that this is a riveting story and that you will be completely embroiled in it yourself. As stated, he delivers the goods both vocally, as if he’s lived this story himself, and with his cornet. The backing trio’s musical accompaniment moves deftly between blues and jazz. Last Hand is a superlative set of authentic real-life blues from one of the genre’s master craftsmen.

--- Graham Clarke

Christopher DeanIt’s been a while since we’ve heard from The Christopher Dean Band (2014’s Call Me Later), but his fans should agree that his new release, Songs from French Street (Lost World Music), was well worth the wait. Dean has always mixed his brand of blues with deep southern soul, but this effort finds his merging of the styles coming to full fruition with 14 stunning tracks, six written by Dean, that blend seamlessly with the well-chosen covers. Joining Dean on this effort is his core band (Dave Hollingsworth – drums, June Thomas – organ, Rob Fraser – bass), along with his longtime friend Johnny Rawls, a first-rate horn section (James White, Steve Lombardelli, and Joe Mixon), and Lost World Music label chief and keyboardist extraordinaire “Chicago” Carl Snyder.

Rawls guests on the opening track, his own “Can I Get It,” sharing lead vocals with Dean and contributing guitar on the funky, upbeat tune. Next is “Without You In My Life,” formerly an early ’70s hit for soul-blues legend Tyrone Davis. Dean’s cover captures the feeling of Davis’ earlier version to a tee. “My Woman Tonight,” a Dean original, is a tasty, romantic slow burner with White featured on sax, and “You Walked Away,” another Dean song, features his crisp guitar work backed by a catchy Latin backdrop.

Dean overs Otis Rush’s “Keep Lovin’ Me Baby,” giving it a swinging arrangement with great West Side fretwork. He also wrote the supremely soulful “Watching Me Watching You,” which could have made the charts back in the day, and “Walls,” which has a nice retro ’70s R&B feel. Next are two excellent covers, first Omar Cunningham’s ballad “Send Her To Me,” and Curtis Mayfield’s civil rights “This Is My Country,” which retains a lot of the original’s style, followed by Dean’s funky soul shuffle, “Not That Kind Of Man,” “Let Me Be,” and a wistful take of Nat King Cole’s “I Miss You So.”

There are two bonus tracks that focus on the pure, unadulterated blues, featuring Dean, Snyder, and Hollingsworth in an intimate setting. Muddy Waters’ “Gypsy Woman” features strong guitar from Dean and some great piano from Snyder, channeling Otis Spann. A lively take of Memphis Minnie’s “Nothin’ In Ramblin’” closes the disc.

All of Christopher Dean’s releases are worth a listen, but with Songs from French Street, he really seems to have locked in on the sound he’s been looking for. His songs stand up very well to the choice covers on this set, and his vocals and guitar work on the album are the best I’ve heard. Blues and soul fans will find a lot to savor on this outstanding set.

--- Graham Clarke

Hurricane RuthGood Life (American Showplace Music) is Hurricane Ruth LaMaster’s fifth release, and it’s her best yet. The singer may be diminutive in stature (five feet tall), but her vocals are anything but, and her nickname is well-deserved. She co-wrote eight of the ten tracks here, many of which have an autobiographical feel, and she’s backed by a powerhouse band (Scott Holt – guitar, Calvin Johnson – bass, Bruce Katz – keyboards, Tony Braunagel – drums) on this album that provides the best reflection of her talent.

“Like Wildfire,” the torrid opener, is a honky tonking blues stomper that gets the album off to a rousing start. “Dirty Blues,” co-written by LaMaster with Tom Hambridge is a driving hard rocker fueled by Holt’s hot fretwork, and “What You Never Had,” also with Hambridge, is a shuffle about making the best of what you’ve got. The title track is a moving ballad based on a conversation LaMaster had with her late mother shortly before she passed away. Gary Nicholson penned “Torn In Two,” a catchy rocking shuffle that LaMaster makes her own.

The funky “She’s Golden” describes a woman successfully rising above adversity, and the rugged blues rocker “Black Sheep” finds LaMaster fully embracing her inner badass. On the declarative “Who I Am,” she declares she’s a changed person to her old friends and she “don’t get down like that no more.” The shuffle “Late Night, Red Wine” was inspired by a friend coming off a rough night, and the closing track, “I’ve Got Your Back,” is a standout, with LaMaster turning in a wonderfully soulful performance fueled by the optimistic words and music.

Previously, Hurricane Ruth seemed to inhabit her songs as much as she performed them, which has always been one of the attractions to her music, at least to these ears. Never has that been truer for her than on Good Life, which features great performances and songs and stands as the singer’s finest hour.

--- Graham Clarke

Rick BerthodLas Vegas-based guitarist Rick Berthod has shared the stage with a host of blues luminaries, including B.B. King, John Mayall, Gregg Allman, Robben Ford, Etta James, Savoy Brown, and the Yardbirds, just to name a few. He has performed at festivals in the U.S., Europe, and Canada and was inducted into the Las Vegas Blues Hall of Fame in 2017. He’s also released eight albums over his three-decade career, the most recent being Peripheral Visions. Berthod provides lead vocals and guitar with support from Smiley Lang (bass/vocals), Justin Truitt (drums), and Billy Truitt (keys), with guest appearances from P.J. Barth (guitar on two tracks) and Ron Anaman (vocals on two tracks).

The ten-song set covers a broad range of blues and rock, beginning with the tasty opening instrumental “Seeing Sideways,” which is a smooth combination of blues and R&B in a Motown vein. “Love Hungry” is a stomping blues rocker, “One More Chance” is a mid-tempo blues, and the slow burning “Memories” is a highlight with stellar work on the keys from Billy Truitt, while Berthod’s guitar playing gives a nod to Albert Collins (who helped the guitarist put together a band in the late 80’s) on the sparkling “Much Love,” and “Treat Her Right,” is an upbeat rocker that features superb instrumental contributions from Berthod and the band.

From the opening notes of the seven-minute blues ballad, “Fly On,” listeners will know they’re in for a treat, as Berthod and company take their sweet time putting this masterpiece together. Goosebumps should ensue from his excellent fretwork on this track and Anaman’s lead vocals on this track and the following mid-tempo blues rock workout “High Dollar Girl” are great. Berthod breaks out the slide for the southern rock-flavored “Hard On My Heart,” and the whole band shines on the funk/jazz instrumental that closes the disc, “Broken Middle Finger.”

A talented and versatile guitarist and fine vocalist, Rick Berthod also receives outstanding support from the whole band on Peripheral Visions, a rock-solid effort that offers an interesting blend of blues, soul, and rock.

--- Graham Clarke

Eddie 9VUp-and-coming singer/guitarist Eddie 9V recently released Way Down The Alley (Live at Blind Willie’s) (Echo Decco Records), a pretty impressive 11-song set recorded in January, 2020 at the legendary Atlanta club in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Backed by a tight band that includes Lane Kelly (bass), Colin Dean (drums), Jackson Allen (harmonica), and Chad Mason (keys), Eddie 9V offers a fun ten-song set (the track called “Technical Difficulties” is just that) that mixes new songs, songs from his previous album, and a few tasty covers.

A relative youngster by blues standards, nevertheless Mr. 9V has put together a savvy set here to go along with his equally savvy mix of blues with an added healthy measure of soul. The smooth urban blues opener, “36 & Main,” swings along at a relaxed pace and the band stretches out behind 9V, who provides strong fretwork and vocals. Next is a solid cover of “Look Over Yonder Wall,” followed by the slow burner “Bottle And The Blues,” featuring crisp lead work from 9V and keyboards from Mason, the funky and soulful “New Orleans,” and the Motown-flavored R&B of “Lo-Fi Love.”

“Cod’s Song” is a slower-paced blues where Eddie 9V enjoys a little interaction with the audience, breaks out some slide guitar, while Allen blows a mean, extended harp solo. “Goin’ Down Slow” takes on a brisker pace than the original, but it works really well, while “Left My Soul In Memphis,” the title track from 9V’s recent studio effort, is a jaunty little slice of Bluff City soul and blues. The last two tracks are from the Muddy Waters songbook, the downhome “Catfish Blues” and a raucous read of “Got My Mojo Workin’,” which sounds like a real crowd pleaser.

Eddie 9V’s previous effort had a homemade quality. He recorded and produced it, playing most of the instruments himself, and it was a pretty strong effort, allowing the limitations with such an undertaking. The live versions with a working band naturally give the songs added “oomph,” but it’s obvious that the songs were there to begin with and so were Eddie 9V’s vocals and guitar. He recently signed with Ruf Records, so blues fans will be hearing much more from Eddie 9V soon. In the meantime, you are strongly encouraged to give Way Down The Alley (Live At Blind Willie’s) a spin or two.

--- Graham Clarke

CD WoodburyA few years back, CD Woodbury and band were on top of the world. Their debut CD, Monday Night, was a finalist for Best Self-Produced CD at the I.B.C. and the band twice made the semifinals (earning the tag “Kings of Beale Street”), and Woodbury has won 11 Best of the Blues awards from the Washington Blues Society and five Electric Blues Guitar awards. In 2018, the guitarist battled a host of health issues, went through a relocation that had him considering giving up the music business altogether. Thankfully, he has returned to the scene with a memorable 2020 appearance at the I.B.C. and a new album, World’s Gone Crazy.

The opening track, “Follow The River Home,” kicks off with splendid four-part acapella harmony from Woodbury and band (Don Montana – drums, Patrick McDanel – bass, Mike Marinig – keys, sax) before launching a hill country stomper driven by Woodbury’s slippery slide guitar. “Walk Around Music” is a swinging tribute to the soul music that has inspired him, the driving rocker “I Didn’t Know” is a tale of betrayal featuring Marinig’s punchy saxophone as a centerpiece, and “Emerald City Blues” is a smoky slow burner, while “Memphis Heat” describes the band’s adventures on Beale Street.

The title track definitely has a swampy vibe with Woodbury’s eerie slide guitar as he reflects on the state of affairs in the world, the funky rocker “South of South Hill” will put a hop in your step (Montana’s drumming is awesome on this track), and on the humorous shuffle “Can’t Eat That Stuff No More,” Woodbury laments his recent frustrating forays into the world of Slim Fast, Nutrisystem, and Weight Watchers.

The last five songs are all covers, beginning with a rollicking version of the Chicago blues standard “Wang Dang Doodle,” sung with gusto by Montana, and continuing with Tad Robinson’s soulful shuffle “Last Go Round,” the jazzy “Adeline” (penned by Kevin Andrew Sutton, Woodbury’s fellow Northwestern blues man), a cool remake of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” (featuring great solos on sax and guitar), and Joe Louis Walker’s “Preacher And The President,” a frank look at corruption and politics that holds as true today as it did when Walker penned it in 1998.

It’s great to have CD Woodbury back on the scene, and World’s Gone Crazy is a lot of fun with fantastic music, great original tunes, and well-chosen covers. Hopefully, those health issues have been addressed and we will hear more soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Jackie Neal tributeJackie Neal was a rising star on the southern soul/blues circuit when her life was tragically ended after being shot by her ex-boyfriend. Ms. Neal was the daughter of Raful Neal, and one of eight siblings who worked as musicians, including Kenny Neal. She released four albums between 1995 and 2005 and was preparing to launch a European tour before her tragic death. Ms. Neal’s loss has been mourned by the blues world for some time, and recently Stevie J Blues, via PK Music Group, has assembled a tribute album to her work, A Jackie Neal Celebration, featuring more of rising stars in the soul and blues fields.

The upbeat opening track, “Nookie Thang,” is ably handled by Jonté Mayon, who’s currently serving as a vocalist in the new Urban Ladder Society group. Ms. Mayon also gets fed up with her lover’s roving eye on the world-weary “He Don’t Love Me.” Meanwhile, Stephanie Luckett pours her heart into the soulful ballad “Right Thing Wrong Man,” and positively nails the slow burner “In Love With Your Stuff,” while singer Tiffstarr Haywood’s vocal on “Juke Joint” is a near-perfect match of Ms. Neal’s original.

Tammy D’s simmering take on the funky “Down In Da Club” is first rate, and Tamera Tate’s popping version of “Twerk It” will get feet on the floor for sure, while Trish May closes out the disc in fine fashion with “That’s The Way We Roll.” Producer Stevie J. Blues couldn’t let the ladies have all the fun, so he (with assistance from Rashad the Blues Kid) let loose with a rip-roaring cover of “Zydeco Party.”

A Jackie Neal Celebration not only pays tribute to a fine vocalist who was taken away from soul and blues fans far too soon, but it also reveals that there’s a lot of impressive young talent poised to fill her shoes.

--- Graham Clarke

Walter BroesThe Belgian group, Walter Broes & the Mercenaries, combine blues, rockabilly, and roots to great effect. Guitarist/singer Broes began his career at 16 with the neo-rockabilly band, The Ratmen, in the late ’80s before spending 16 years with The Seatsniffers, who released seven albums and played 1,500 shows all over Europe. Recently, Broes and The Mercenaries (drummer Lieven Declercq and bassist Clark Kenis) released a single on the Rootz Rumble label. The A-side, “Nice and Neat,” is a rollicking roots and rockabilly raver that gets a lot done in just over two minutes, harkening back to the glory days of the music. The B-side, “Smokin’,” is a hard-rocking instrumental that would be a great fit on one of those surf guitar compilations you see online. Both tracks will have fans of these genres looking forward to a full album of this great music from Walter Broes & the Mercenaries soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Wily Bo WalkerWily Bo Walker and Danny Flam previously collaborated on 2015’s Moon Over Indigo, which earned consideration for a 2016 Grammy. Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Walker’s music spans several genres --- blues, gospel, soul, R&B, rock, and jazz --- while Flam, who leads the New York Brass, has won multiple Grammys and is known for his work with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and others. Their latest collaboration, Ain’t No Man A Good Man (Mescal Canyon Music), features ten tracks, eight written or co-written by Wiley, and a host of musical collaborators too lengthy to list.

The title track opens the disc, a horn-fueled affair that brings to mind the horn-driven rock sounds of the early ’70s, followed by the driving blues rocker “Fool For You,” reprised from Walker’s Almost Transparent Blues release in 2018. The rollicking shuffle, “Did I Forget,” has a swinging Crescent City vibe, as does the second line-charged “Velvet Windows (Treme Trippin’).” The ominously funky “Walking With The Devil” features eerie slide guitar teaming with Walker’s low rumble narration.

On “Night Of The Hunter,” the band really locks into a great groove with stinging guitar from Mike Ross, those punchy horns, and Walker’s noir-like lyrics and vocals. “Ain’t Hungry No More” manages to throw a little reggae rhythm into the mix, and “Time To Forget You” has an after-hours R&B feel, about as after-hours as this album gets. Meanwhile, the standard “St. James Infirmary” gets an up-tempo --- REALLY up-tempo --- reworking that makes it sound like a totally different song.The stunning closer, “Build My Gallows (Ain’t No Return),” features slide guitar from Troy Redfern, haunting background vocals, and the Cenovia Cummins String Quartet.

Ain’t No Man A Good Man is not your ordinary blues album, but it wouldn’t have come from Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam if that was the case. If energetic blues/R&B with blasting horns and a hard rocking edge is in your wheelhouse, then this is one that needs to be heard.

--- Graham Clarke


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