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June 2022

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Order these featured albums today:

Regina Bonelli

Randy McAllister

Bennett Matteo Band

Delbert McClinton

Ilana Katz Katz

Reverend Freakchild - Supramundane Blues

Sandy Haley

Professor Louie and the Crowmatix

Mike Stevens

Lew Jetton and 61 South

Karl Stoll and the Danger Zone

Stevie J



Regina BonelliTruth Hurts (True Groove) is not the first album by Brooklyn-based singer Regina Bonelli, but this very fine collection of nine soulful, rockin' blues served as my introduction to her music. She's a strong singer with a big voice that emits plenty of emotion. Ms. Bonelli is backed by The True Groove All-Stars, a tight band that does justice to the music without trying to overpowering her vocals.

The album opens with a very strong number, as the title cut is a mid-tempo funky blues with sassy vocals from Bonelli who also doubles on organ, while Mark Henry comes in with nice sax work. That leads into another good blues number, "The Last Tear," with Bonelli having to give up on that man but not before she sheds one more tear for him. Tomás Doncker, who co-produced the album with James Dellatacoma, contributes some funky guitar effects. Guest guitarist Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" Hampton shines with a scintillating solo on "Cross To Bear," a slow blues with a touch of gospel.

Perhaps ""Mama Raised A Sweet Thing" is Bonelli's autobiography, as she sings that while she was raised a sweet thing, she also wasn't raised a fool. That leads into one of the best cuts on Truth Hurts, the slow blues "Baby Don't Hurt Me," highlighted by pedal steel guitar from Artur Uronen. One might think that the addition of steel guitar would give the song a country vibe but that's not true, especially when it's complemented by Doncker's jazzy guitar solos. "Mr. Big Man" is a solid mid-tempo blues that includes harmonica accompaniment from an un-credited player, while "Did I" is more of a soulful R&B song that doesn't have as much blues in it as the other cuts.

While it's hard to pick a favorite number on this album, a very strong candidate should be Bonelli's rendition of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor." She's got the grit in her voice to do justice for this heavy blues and the power and range to allow her vocals to soar at times. Henry blows some mean sax and Doncker puts in  wah-wah effects on guitar. This one's an absolute killer! It should have been the closer as it's hard for the final cut, the mid-tempo blues "I Got To Go" to stand up next to it, but that's okay. Doncker adds distorted guitar chords in this finale.

Truth Hurts is a solid release and will have me digging through Bonelli's past discography for more gems like this one. For now, I'll be happy listening to Truth Hurts over and over.

--- Bill Mitchell

Randy McAllisterRandy McAllister is an east Texas blues and soul singer who also plays a very fine harmonica, as heard on his latest album, Power Without Power (Reaction Records). There aren't a lot of bells and whistles on the 11 songs here, but just nicely-done, understated blues with a punch of soul. McAllister plays harmonica and sings, with Brandon Hudspeth doing most of the tasteful acoustic guitar accompaniment. Guitarist Howard Mahan appears on four cuts, and Heather Newman and Jack McAllister adding background vocals on one song each. All songs are originals except for one killer cover tune.

Opening the album with quite a twist is "Surprise!!!," opening with acoustic slide guitar and rhythmic hand clapping before McAllister sings about his woman who says she's working late hours and needs to get a hotel room so that she doesn't get home late and disturb his sleep. He instead decides to "surprise" her by bringing her family together for a pop-in visit at the hotel. You can probably figure out the rest, as they catch her in the hotel with her side lover. It's a mid-tempo blues with really strong slide guitar from Hudspeth.

The really strong cover is "(Somebody Ease My Troublin ' Mind," done originally by Sam Cooke. McAllister packs a wallop with his own soulful vocals. He's not trying to sound like Cooke (who could?), but makes it his own for one of the highlights of the album. Another keeper is McAllister's call to action, "C'mon Brothers And Sisters," an up-tempo number on which he sings, "... the wrong thing is easy, the right not so much, the truth is in the daily news ..." It's a stirring, inspirational number, with a very fine acoustic slide solo from Hudspeth.

Hudspeth also takes his slide work to another level on the fast-moving "Son," with McAllister packing more power into his voice. "Sweet Spot" is a fun, loving tune about how his woman makes him feel. Newman joins on backing vocals on the mid-tempo blues, "Donnie Downer," a tale of an office worker who makes everyone around him feel better about their lives because of how miserable his fortunes appear to be. McAllister takes the opportunity to show off on harmonica here.

Closing the album is another very good original, "Like Nothing Else," with McAllister putting plenty of power into his soulful vocals while Hudspeth tears it up with his slide one more time.

Not being that familiar with Randy McAllister before hearing Power Without Power, this one caught me by surprise. It's really good, and is the type of album that grows on you the more you listen to it. Highly recommended.

--- Bill Mitchell

Bennett Matteo BandIf you've read enough of my reviews on Blues Bytes, you have probably already figured out that I prefer groups with vocalists that can really sing. I went through multiple albums trying to determine which one to feature in my final review for the month before finding this disc from Bennett Matteo Band, which undoubtedly has a strong singer in Jade Bennett. She packs plenty of blues and soul in her powerful voice, as heard on Shake The Roots (SoNo Recording Group), a collection of 10 original songs co-produced by Kid Andersen along with guitarist Gino Matteo.

In the media release Matteo claims that the album is a mix of their various influences. which can result in an uneven album, but the band keeps it pretty much in focus on most of the cuts. Their strength is in soulful blues, with the best songs fitting into this box.

Kicking it off is a mid-tempo funky soulful tune, "Doesn't Really Matter," with Bennett showing the power and range in her vocals as she soars through the octaves, and Matteo lays down solid blues/rock guitar licks. Bennett also belts out vocals on the mysterious "Shiny Creatures," an up-tempo driving song.

Bennett puts a little bit of Janis Joplin into her voice on the slow, bluesy soul number, "Paid & Broke," singing "...I'm pre-approved, but I'm always behind ..." Despite her financial troubles, her man keeps her and she's happy to have him. Another keeper is the slow, late-night jazzy blues, "Table For Two," supplemented by Jim Pugh's gospel-style piano. It may start out slow, but the tempo increases as the song develops, with Barrett getting more energy into her vocals to keep pace.

The final number is another good one, with "When I Close My Eyes" being a mid-tempo soul, with Nic Clark's chromatic harmonica accompaniment sounding a lot like Stevie Wonder blowing his harp. Matteo gets good tone from his guitar and Bennett leads with strong, sensual vocals.

Shake The Roots is a good representation of the Bennett Matteo Band. There may be more growth in this band's sound, so keep an eye and ear out for their next recording.

--- Bill Mitchell

Delbert McClintonLast year, Delbert McClinton announced that he was retiring from touring. Most fans understood this, since the pandemic was still an issue and the Texas music legend had recently turned 80, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t saddened by the announcement and wondering if they’d heard the last of him. Fortunately, even though McClinton did stop touring, he didn’t stop recording, spending most of the isolation period at Kevin McKendree’s Rock House Studio in Nashville.

The end result, Outdated Emotion (Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers), is McClinton’s 27th studio recording, a collection of songs paying tribute to the artists that influenced him the most over his 65-year career. In short, it’s the album he’s always dreamed of doing.

Opening with “Stagger Lee,” famously covered by Lloyd Price in the ’50s, McClinton gets the disc off to a rousing start, with stellar support from Jim Hoke on baritone and tenor saxophones and backing vocals from Wendy Moten and Vicki Hampton. Next is the first of three tunes associated with Hank Williams, “Settin’ The Woods On Fire,” with Chris Scruggs’ steel guitar and Stuart Duncan’s fiddle helping set the mood, followed by the first of three associated with Jimmy Reed, “The Sun Is Shining,” a stripped down affair with Kevin and Yates McKendree accompanying McClinton, who also plays harmonica.

A swinging take of “One Scotch, One Bourbon, and One Beer” once again features the McKendrees in musical support. McClinton then rips into Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” with the energy and enthusiasm of a man half his age, and follows with a cool countrified redo of his own “Two Step Too” (originally on his Cost of Living album from 2005) that adds steel guitar and fiddle. McClinton sounds supremely soulful on the slow burner, “I Want A Little Girl,” associated with Ray Charles during his Atlantic years. He kicks things up a notch on the second Reed selection, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You,” which segues into a tasty read of the second Williams-associated tune, “Jambalaya.”

“Connecticut Blues” is a new McClinton composition, an easygoing jazzy blues collaboration with the McKendrees. The third Reed-associated tune, “I Ain’t Got You” (also associated with Billy Boy Arnold and the Yardbirds) is a keeper and so is McClinton’s third Williams tune, a swinging version of “Move It On Over,” with fiddle and steel guitar and raucous backing vocals. The oft-recorded “Hard Hearted Hannah” is next, and McClinton has a ball with it.

Two more McClinton originals follow, “Sweet Talkin’ Man,” a new tune in a blues rocking vein, and the country arrangement on “Money Honey,” originally presented in more of a manic, rocking vein on 2002’s Room To Breathe, works extremely well.

McClinton’s voice has coarsened just a bit over the years (65 years of performing will do that), but he sounds great on all of these tunes. He is still a master of his craft, seamlessly delivering on a wonderful set that marries blues, country, rock, and a bit of jazz. He knows these songs back and front and you can feel the love when he sings them. It’s sad that he’s not touring anymore, but thank goodness he’s still making great music in the studio.

--- Graham Clarke

Ilana Katz KatzIlana Katz Katz’s latest release, In My Mind, expands her blues and roots fiddling with a dash of Mississippi grit and some greasy Memphis soul. Part of that is due to the presence of producer Matt Isbell of the Memphis-based Ghost Town Blues Band. Katz met him at the I.B.C. in 2016, which led to her appearing on GTBB’s 2019 release, Shine, with Katz asking Isbell to produce her album. The album also features Johnny Burgin on guitar, Stephen Dougherty on drums, Chris Matheos on bass, with Kevin Houston adding percussion. Katz penned 10 of the 11 tracks, and they’re as diverse and enticing as her musical talents.

The breezy, mid-tempo title track opens the disc, a light, funky blues punctuated by Katz’s mellow fiddle, sweet vocal, and Burgin's supple guitar. “Woman, Play The Blues” has a dusty Delta feel, and serves as an autobiographical track of sorts, with Katz wistfully singing about her place in the male/guitar-dominated genre. Meanwhile, “Nine Souls” starkly recalls her reactions to the tragic Charleston church massacre in 2015, and the swinging “Won’t Pass Me By” with a deep bass line from Matheos and Burgin’s rhythm guitar subtly backing Katz’s fiddle.

The urgent “Time To Go” has a restless, buoyant vibe which states the need to move on to better surroundings, while the playful “Downtown With The Devil” pictures Katz battling with the devil (portrayed as a woman), and “Aint No Why” ponders the futility of obsessing over the world’s problems. “Bad Child” has a thick, swampy feel, with Katz’s somber vocal and fiddle backed by Burgin’s guitar, and his fretwork also shines on “Well, Well Blues,” sounding like an old Chicago blues with Katz’s fiddle in place of the traditional harmonica.

The traditional instrumental “Hangman’s Reel” is a wonderful showcase for Katz’ fiddle having a stomping good time. The reflective final track, “If,” was written and recorded by Katz in her closet during the pandemic, as she calls for people to find common ground and cause.

Ilana Katz Katz always offers a different twist on the traditional (and modern, to be honest) blues fare. It seems like the fiddle playing is more prominent on this release, and that’s always a good thing. Her thoughtful songwriting and her lovely vocals are always a pleasure to listen to, and to these ears, In My Mind is her best effort to date.

--- Graham Clarke

Reverend FreakchildReverend Freakchild returns with another healthy dose of his psychedelic brand of gospel blues. His latest work consists of two discs, both on Treated and Released Records. The first, Supramundane Blues, consists of 13 tracks of a gospel or gospel-inspired vein that span mulitple genres. The Reverend is joined by guitarists Kevin Griffin and Mark Karan, keyboardist Steve Sirockin, bassist Malcolm “The Minister of Bass” Oliver, drummer Chris Parker, percussionist Jason Hann, multi-instrumentalist Hugh Pool (who also produced), and the Reverend Shawn Amos on vocals and harmonica.

The Reverend opens with a faithful rendition of Son House’s “Preachin’ The Blues,” capturing House’s intensity with his guitar work and vocals. Next is a country-funk take of the traditional “Crying Holy,” popularized by Bill Monroe in years past, a rockin’ blues read of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” a stirring version of the Blind Lemon classic “See That My Grave is Kept Clean,” and a pensive folk interpretation of Albert King’s “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven” that works surprisingly well. Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of A Man?” swings along with a couple of additional verses provided by the Reverend.

“Factors of Awakening” is a Freakchild original, a mostly instrumental piece with Griffin backed by a droning hill country rhythm and shimmering fretwork. ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” is transformed into a spare, acoustic slow burner, while “Good Shepherd” retains the Jorma Kaukonen/Jefferson Airplane arrangement of the traditional tune. The gospel standard “Working On A Building” gets a groovy funky treatment that will get toes to tapping.

Amos guests on the soulful “Keep On Prayin’,” providing vocals and harmonica, before the album closes with a glorious cover of Reverend Gary Davis’ “It’s Gonna Be Alfight!,” and the 16-minute “Seven Billion Light Years Old” is a combination of special effects and snippets of testimonies.

Reverend FreakchildThe second CD, called Psychedelic Trip Hop Mass, continues along the theme of the first CD’s closing tune. It's interesting to hear one time through, but probably not one you’ll be plugging in repeatedly. That being said, if you’re familiar with the Reverend Freakchild, you should be amused and entertained --- at least once.

Reverend Freakchild continues the long tradition of “preaching the blues” that’s been prevalent in the genre since, really, its inception. He does it quite a bit different than previously and that’s what makes his music so compelling and interesting. Supramundane Blues is a lot of fun to listen to, like the rest of his catalog.

Reverend Freakchild was once known as Fordham Murdy, and he once led the Boston rock n’ roll band Bananafish back in the 1990s. That band recently released a 25th anniversary retrospective, Boston Bananafish (Treated and Released Records), that will give Freakchild fans a little background into the musical development of their hero. The two-CD set features one disc with twelve vocal tunes and an all-instrumental disc.

The vocal disc has 11 songs written by Murdy and, like his solo work, the songs touch on a variety of musical styles. “Red Car Coming” is a wild foray into rockabilly, “Luck & Work” and “Underneath The Porch” are greasy funk, “Casey and Hayes” and “Holding On” venture into southern rock territory, “Nobody’s Fault” is pop, and “Keep On Keepin’ On” is ’70s-styled R&B. There’s also a live track, with “Talk Good About Me” having a Grateful Dead feel (apropos for the Reverend, for sure), and the manic “Penumbra (Thank You I’m Sorry)” is mostly an instrumental.

Closing the first disc are the moody “Belpre At Night,” showcasing the band’s instrumental prowess, and a countrified cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

The instrumental disc shows that the band had an excellent chemistry and it includes seven tracks, opening with the madcap “Mrs. Moriarty,” before moving to “Planet Garbanzo,” a funky groover with bluesy guitar work from Matt Rae. “Smoking Gaia” is also funky and ventures into blues, jazz, and a little bit of world music as well. The frenetic “Mauve” is a brisk rock and jazz workout, “Avereen” deftly mixes jazz and Celtic influences, and “Crazy Karma” has a film noir on steroids quality. The closer, “Nobody,” is jazz and rock taken at breakneck speed.

Fans of Reverend Freakchild will certainly enjoy this disc as it demonstrates that his unique talent as a songwriter, performer has been in place a long time, as well as his irresistible eccentricity. Boston Bananafish shows that the Boston-based band certainly should have been better known than they were, but truthfully, blues fans might have missed out on the good Reverend if they had been.

--- Graham Clarke

Sandy HaleySinger Sandy Haley grew up in Detroit, where she played piano and sang gospel until she got her heart broken in a breakup. From that point she gravitated to the blues and Los Angeles. She’s played with or shared the stage with contemporary blues artists Teresa James, Coco Montoya, and John Németh, along with rocker Joe Walsh, Sammy Hagar, and the Beach Boys. Her compelling blend of blues, soul, and gospel is on full display with her latest release, Feels Like Freedom, a 5-song EP produced by Grammy winner Tony Braunagel.

The swinging “Dirty Dog” gets the disc off to a rousing start. This is a fun track and I’m sure it’s a big crowd favorite with the sing-along chorus. The uplifting title track is a soothing R&B tune with a Motown feel and punchy tenor sax from Joe Sublett. “Love Me Right or Cut Me Loose” is a sultry slow burner based on personal experience where Haley lets her mate know that she deserves much better than she’s getting from him.

The amusing “Never Sleep Your Way To The Middle” is an upbeat rocker with horns and driving piano addressing the dead-end potential of an affair with middle management. “Run For Shelter” is about moving on from an abusive relationship that could also apply to anyone taking a bold step out to change their life.

Sandy Haley is certainly a talented singer in a variety of genres. These tracks cover the blues, soul, R&B, and rock and she’s equally comfortable in all of them. She’s also a gifted songwriter. Feels Like Freedom is a strong set that will leave listeners hungry for more from this artist.

--- Graham Clarke

Professor LouieStrike Up The Band (Woodstock Records) is the new album by Professor Louie & The Crowmatix, featuring nine new original tunes written by Professor Louie (Aaron Hurwitz) and Miss Marie (Marie Spinoza), with one co-written with guitarist John Platania and a cover of a long-lost tune written by the late Richard Manuel of The Band. (The Professor produced and performed on The Band’s last three albums and toured as a member until 1999). The trio is joined by Gary Burke (drums) and Frank Campbell (bass) and the Woodstock Horns.

The ten songs and performances strike an optimistic note that is most welcome in these turbulent times that we live in. The opener, “A Thousand Ways To Freedom” is an uplifting rocker. It’s followed by the funky “Work It Out,” featuring the Woodstock Horns (drummer Burke did all the horn arrangements). Miss Marie’s blues-steeped vocals are front and center on “Fall Back On Me,” as is Platania’s nimble fretwork. She also leads the vocals on the magnificent Crescent City groover “Golden Eagle,” which describes an express train on a one-way trip to Heaven.

The upbeat “Good To Be Grateful” is a joyful tune, with the Professor happily testifying to his good fortune, while the energetic rocker “Livin’ In This Country” calls for unity once and for all in America. “Tick Tock” has a gospel/soul feel at the beginning before dropping into a New Orleans-flavored R&B, telling the tale of a man running out of time to win his woman’s love. “Chain Shot Cannonball” is a mid-tempo blues rocker about the end of a relationship, and the somber “End of The Show” is a winner, with a heartbreaking vocal from Professor Louie. The album closes with “Flaming Ray,” a sober call for peace and unity with a churchy feel that drives the message home.

Though the times may be troublesome, music fans can take comfort in the fact that Professor Louie & The Crowmatix remain optimistic that better days are ahead. Strike Up The Band is loaded with tunes that reflect that hope.

--- Graham Clarke

Mike StevensWhile making his latest album, Breathe In The World, Breathe Out Music (Stony Plain Records), Canadian harmonica master Mike Stevens was battling the effects of late-stage Lyme disease, which rendered even the most routine actions exceedingly difficult. Fortunately, he was able to soldier through the difficulties to produce a wonderful set that ventures from blues to bluegrass to world music to country. The album features 12 songs, a mix of originals and covers with Stevens receiving support on selected tracks from guitarists Jeff Getty, Jesse Wells, and Kevin Breit, drummer Art Hratchian, bassist Jeff Bird, mandolinist Andrew Collins, and vocalist Cory James Mitchell and Polly Harris.

“Like A Little Bird” is, indeed, like a little bird as it opens the album. It’s exceeding light and airy like a gentle breeze wafting through space with Ms. Harris’ sweet vocal and Stevens’ harmonica playing over a funky reggae backdrop. “Watermelon Pie” is a busy instrumental that mixes the blues with a touch of country. It’s followed by “Life In Sarnia,” sung by Mitchell, where Stevens’ harmonica takes on a low, growling tone as he describes returning home to family, and “Grumbling Old Man, Grumbling Old Woman,” another instrumental that gets a fun and funky treatment. There’s also a very interesting instrumental take on the Gordon Lightfoot epic “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which retains the haunting tension of the original without the lyrics.

Stevens takes the vocal for the jazz-flavored “Bad In A Good Way.” He’s previously expressed a discomfort about singing, but he does a good job on this song and a couple of others along the way. Meanwhile, his version of the bluegrass standard “Orange Blossom Special” starts out slowly, but shifts to jaw dropping hyper-drive quickly. The more serene, meditative instrumental “Jesse’s Request” brings the energy level back to earth, but things pick back up quickly with a romping, stomping version of “Ida Red,” that will have listeners singing along.

Stevens shines on a mostly solo interpretation of the traditional hymn “Amazing Grace.” He mostly plays in the upper register and, with the understated guitar backing from Breit and Getty, it really puts a fresh coat of paint on an old standard. “Devil’s Bride” is a dark, ominous blues driven by Breit’s electric guitar and Stevens’ harmonica and gravelly vocal, and the zany closer, “Put The Phone Down,” is powered by Hratchian’s second line groove while Stevens’ improvises on harp and lyrics.

For any blues fan who enjoys harmonica, Breathe In The World, Breathe Out Music should be on your must-hear list. Mike Stevens is a master of this tiny instrument and he takes it in a variety of musical directions on this engaging release, which should really be required listening for any music fan.

--- Graham Clarke

Lew JettonLew Jetton & 61 South recently marked 30 years with a collection of favorite tunes from their four albums. Deja Hoodoo (Endless Blues Records) compiles 16 tracks pulled from 2000’s State Line Blues, 2006’s Tales From A 2 Lane, 2016’s Rain, and 2017’s Palestine Blues. If you’re not familiar with Jetton’s music, you’ll be searching out the remainder of his catalog after hearing this well chosen set.

The gritty blues rocker “Two Lane Road” kicks off the disc with searing guitar work and Jetton’s tough vocals. The protagonist in the mid-tempo “Mexico” bemoans the loss of his job to a new location south of the border, but things look up quickly on the next track as he sings of the pleasures and charms of the “Waffle House Woman,” bound to be a crowd favorite at their shows, and the chugging boogie track, “Homegrown Tomato,” one of several tracks that features harmonica from JD Wilkes, an original member of 61 South who now fronts The Legendary Shack Shakers.

“Betcha” is a driving rocker, while “I Been Cheated” is a soulful blues ballad with a strong vocal from Jetton. Those tracks and the remainder of the disc, including the urban blues “Nighttime Into Day,” the rock n’ roll shuffle “Sandy Lee,” “Who’s Texting You” (definitely a modern blues), the slow burners “Tattoo Blues,” “State Line Blues,” and “Drinking Again,” and the sweaty closer “Will I Go To Hell,” are superb and demonstrate the sheer versatility of Jetton & 61 South’s music. Blues with a heaping helping of rock, and soul.

Deja Hoodoo should be in every blues rock fan’s collection and probably on regular rotation for a long time. Trust me, after listening, you’ll want to hear more from Lew Jetton & 61 South, who should be better known and more frequently recorded if there was any justice in the world.

--- Graham Clarke

Karl StollKarl Stoll and the Danger Zone (Stoll – guitar/vocals, John Dickson – harmonica/vocals, Dean Dalton – bass/vocals, Brian Alpert – drums/vocals) is a Washington, D.C.-based blues band whose music incorporates a little Chicago, a little New Orleans, a little Memphis, and a little Texas into the mix. They’ve performed widely in the DC area, appearing at shows with Roomful of Blues, Sue Foley, Popa Chubby, Tom Principato, Anson Funderburgh and Mark Hummel, among others. The Workhouse is their second release, featuring ten original tracks written by Stoll with one choice cover.

The opening track, “Meet Me In New Orleans,” gets the album off to a great start with its energetic and insistent Second Line rhythm and overall good vibe (New Orleans piano man David Torkanowsky sits in). “Sometimes” is a mid-tempo ballad which is reprised at the conclusion of the album. It’s followed by the title track, a Delta blues-inspired tune recounting the history of the now-closed D.C. prison in Lorton, Virginia, “He Was My Dad,” a blues rocking tribute to Stoll’s late father featuring slide guitar from Paul Bell (The Nighthawks), and “Why Does It Feel So Good,” an amusing warning about venturing into the wrong direction.

“Open Your Arms” is an old-school, soulful ballad, while the pop rocker “Love Is A Two Way Street” is a fun ride with catchy lyrics and an irresistible beat. “Bad Girl” is a splendid slow blues, while “Fantasy Girl” has a driving ’80s rock/pop feel. The album’s lone cover, John Prine’s “Great Rain,” finds Stoll incorporating some inspired Hendrix-ian guitar into the mix that works really well. The brief reprisal of “Sometimes” wraps up the disc.

The Workhouse is a strong set of blues, blues rock, and roots originals that will satisfy fans of those genres. Stoll is a fine songwriter and an engaging guitarist and vocalist.

--- Graham Clarke

Stevie JThe ever-busy Mississippi bluesman Stevie J Blues returns with another hot single, “Move Forward,” a strong southern soul/blues track dealing with picking up and moving on from a bad situation. Backed with a strong, driving rhythm track, encouraging lyrics, memorable chorus, as well as a distinctive guitar solo that sends the tune to a different level as it wraps up, this song will be a real crowd pleaser for soul, blues, and R&B fans. Stevie J Blues’ music has a charming appeal to fans of traditional and contemporary blues. He’s just getting started, folks.

--- Graham Clarke



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