Review by John Taylor
Wherever that edge is, we’re glad Mark Cameron wandered over to take a look. And we’re even gladder that he made it back OK, because he’s returned with an armload of great music, spiced with some satisfying lyrics.
Cameron and his band, 2017 winners of “The Road to Memphis” challenge, have just buttoned up an album that moves easily from ultra-cool funk to driving, dirty blues to smooth soul and back again. It’s packed with the kind of sweat-it-out guitar, harmonica and slide riffs that suck even the most uptight among us out the dance floor.
We were hooked at Scott Lundberg’s rangy, bass downbeat on the opening number, “It’s Alright.” As Cameron’s swaying guitar and Rick Miller’s Harp joined the mix, we were cranking up the volume. The lyrics – a bittersweet observation of modern economics (“doesn’t matter where the money went, ‘cause you’re never gonna see a cent”) – bring it all together.
That perfect pairing continues throughout the CD. Whether they’re penning words or melodies, the Minnesota-based Cameron shows that after 30 years in the business, he and his outfit know what they’re doing.
Cameron’s vocals, guitars and piano, backed up by Sheri Cameron on sax, flute, washboard, congas and shaker, Lunberg on bass, Miller on harp and Don Schroeder on drums power solid, driving beats on additional standout numbers like “This Is the Blues,” “All There Is to It” and “All Dressed Up.”
An impressive list of guests doesn’t hurt anything, either: Tommy Barbarella (Hammond B3 organ), Suzanne Ernst (bass, flute), Tonia Hughes and Sarah Renner (soul vocals), Zack Lozier (trumpet and trombone), Nick Salisbury (bass) and Greg Schutte (drums).
And like was said, playful or painful, song by song, the lyrics always seem just right. “You’re cookin’ up a story now because the truth just hurts too much …” Cameron croons on “This Is the Blues.” But he’s quick to lighten up with a line like “It’s never too late for a seventh chance,” on “All There Is to It.”
No question about it. This is one you’ll want in your collection. And it’s one you’ll enjoy again and again, because it grows on you — fast.
We don’t know what’s out there on the edge, but we like what we can hear of it.
Total Time: 44:37
It’s Alright / This Is the Blues / 2nd Job / Never See It Comin’ / All There Is to It / Back From the Edge / One Size Fits All / All Dressed Up / Dollar for Liquor / Lost and Found