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July 2021

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Adam Schultz
Soulful Distancing

Blue Heart Records

Adam Schultz

Blues Bytes readers were introduced to Adam Schultz in the recent review of Clarence Spady's latest album, Surrender. In that very fine release Spady was in part passing the torch to this young guitarist from New York, and this newest album, Soulful Distancing (Blue Heart Records), continues where Surrender left off. Still in his teens, Schultz is showing promise to be an excellent soulful bluesy guitarist with this album consisting of 11 strong cuts.

Schultz doesn't sing, so he brings in a variety of singers for this session, not to mention some of the finer backing musicians around the New York City area. Spady does the yeoman's share, handling vocals on six tunes while Michael Angelo appears on four cuts and Russian-born Ekat Pereyra on one. Four of the songs here are Schultz originals. He doesn't try to dominate the session, instead being content to fit in with his always on-spot guitar playing.

Spady steps to the microphone for the first two numbers, both mid-tempo blues songs --- Johnny "Guitar" Watson's funky "A Real Mother For Ya" and Louis Jordan's Early In The Morning." Up next is the pleasant Schultz original jazzy blues, "Good Conversation," that was on the Spady disc but this time Angelo does the vocal work. He's got a smoother voice than Spady and he's well-suited for this soulful tune. Schultz comes in with a tasteful guitar solo.

One of the more interesting cuts is another Schultz original, the funky soul number "Harlem Tonight." I'll describe it as sophisticated jazzy soul, if you catch my drift. Keyboards are a highlight here with both Robert O'Connell (organ) and Scott Brown (piano) getting solo time. The difference between the two Schultz compositions so far show a maturity as a songwriter far exceeding his age and experience level. Another original jazzy, soulful number, "Have Some Faith," brings Pereyra in for her lone contribution, but now we'd all like to hear more from her.

Schultz does some really strong ice-picking on guitar on the Little Walter original, "Who (Who Told You)." Many years ago I used to hear Nappy Brown sing this number in his live shows. Nappy's version was quite different from Walter's, and now this new rendition gets even more jazzy and funky. Angelo returns for a Schultz composition, "Cure For The Blues," with the tempo picking up and both keyboard players shining. Schultz also turns out a hot guitar solo. Our last Schultz-penned song, the slow blues "Toxic Medicine," has Angelo singing about the dangers of obsessive love. O'Connell is fierce on the B3 while Tom Hamilton opens the number with a wonderful tenor sax solo.

Spady comes back on vocals and guitar for a faithful reading of the Tyrone Davis soul classic, "Can I Change My Mind," not straying far from the origina, but the sound grows towards the end with O'Connell's B3 and the horn section taking it to new heights. Powerful! Spady also sings on a version of the standard blues, "Cut You Loose," but what really stands out here is O'Connell's awe-inspiring B3 solo.

Closing the disc is a cover of Roosevelt Sykes' "44 Blues," with Spady's raspy vocals giving it just the right Delta swagger. Schultz gets the guitar parts right, too. It's a different vibe than the rest of the album, but an effective way to wrap up the show.

I'm eager to see and hear what's next in Adam Schultz's career because he's still so very young but also very talented. Just one of the many musicians from his generation working on not only keeping the blues alive but also pumping new energy into the genre. You will want to own Soulful Distancing. While you're at it, pick up a copy of Clarence Spady's Surrender. These two discs go together so well.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

 

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