Album Review by Phil M.
Well, here’s a compilation of musical goodness, this time brought to us by Easy Eye Sound, a Nashville-based label (and recording studio of the same name) founded back in 2017 and headed up by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. The label has pedigree, having been named 2022 Blues Label of the Year by Billboard, and has had 16 GRAMMY nominations and four Billboard number-one albums under its belt.
The album is a current take on the state of the blues scene and has several contributors, some of which are very well known indeed, and as an added sweetener has a previously unreleased Black Keys tune to tempt you into buying it.
R.L. Boyce – ‘Coal Black Mattie’
From Como, North Mississippi, R.L. Boyce (himself a recipient of a GRAMMY nomination for his 2018 ‘Best Traditional Blues Album) starts off the album with a cover of Ranie Burnette’s track which also featured (naturally) on the Black Keys Delta Kream album. The sound immediately strikes you as authentic traditional blues with a blend of an old and new feel to it and classy slide work.
Robert Finley – Tell Everybody
Finley has worked with Auerbach before and has taken part in his Easy Eye Sound Revue tour. He hails from Bernice, Louisiana, was born in ’54 and started playing guitar at age 11 has some significant history, playing guitar and acting as a bandleader with the U.S. Army in Germany. Heavily reverbed guitars open the track before the thud of the bass drum and nicely synchronised bass and guitars lead us into the vocal harmonies of the chorus. Despite the slower tempo there’s a real energy to the track and of course great guitar work.
Moonrisers – Tall Shadow
Next up is an instrumental by this duo, just featuring guitar and drums it’s simplistic but highly atmospheric, almost mournful in the way that it’s delivered.
Dan Auerbach – Every Chance I Get (I Want You in the Flesh)
Auerbach himself gets in on the act here with his single release from the album, a bit more up-tempo twelve bar and has a little of the feel of ‘Spirit in the Sky’ with its riff and fairly bops along with its great guitar sounds and catchy chorus.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Catfish Blues (Mono)
Holmes is the proprietor of the Blue Front Café in his hometown of Bentonia on the Mississippi Blues Trail and the oldest surviving Mississippi juke joint and is known as the last of the great Bentonia bluesmen. ‘Catfish Blues’ is from his 2019 album, ‘Cypress Grove’. The sound is stripped back, almost as though you’re there in the juke listening to it live. The guitar sound is gritty, punchy and raunchy and the playing top notch. It’s nice to hear it in retro mono.
Gabe Carter – Anything You Need
Carter is younger than many of the other musicians here, representing the new face and sound of trad blues. He features twice on the album, this one an atmospheric downtempo guitar driven 12 bars, beautifully produced with plenty of air and separation to the mix. Nicely laid-back guitar and vocals with good slide work in the solo.
Nat Myers – Willow Witchin’
Next up is an acoustic guitar and foot-tapping effort from Myers. Again, nicely recorded and produced with a mellow sound and features some great finger-picking on the acoustic.
Leo Bud Welch – Don’t Let the Devil Ride (Mono)
Another mono track here, and a re-recording of the track from his ‘The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name’. A fuller sound with nicely distorted guitar and Hammond accompaniment with a fade out at the end of the track that gets you wanting more.
The Black Keys – No Lovin’
The newly released track from with nicely synched bass, guitar and use of phaser. Great solos with the guitar on the verge of feedback. Plenty of depth to the sound here, and sure to appeal to the fans.
Glenn Schwartz – Daughter of Zion (Featuring Joe Walsh)
And here’s Joe Walsh backing the late Ohio bluesman, Glenn Schwartz. Walsh had replaced Schwartz in the James Gang in 1967 when Schwartz left to join the Los Angeles-based blues outfit Pacific Gas & Electric. As you’d expect a little heavier in nature than some of the other tracks here, but with the feel of the gospel that Schwartz loved after tiring of the rock’n’roll lifestyle.
Gabe Carter – Buffalo Road
Another from Carter with a stripped-back sound and slide work and nice touches as the drums drop out mid-song. Also released as a single from the album.
Glenn Schwartz – Collinwood Fire
The album concludes with an acoustic number ‘Collinwood Fire’ which tells the terrible story of a fire at the high school there back in 1908 where over 170 students as well as a teacher and a rescuer lost their lives.
The album is as fine a representation of the current state of the blues and blues as it used to be from some of the masters of the trade. Well put together and recorded. A must if you are a fan of the genre.