Mississippi MacDonald – Do Right Say Right

Mississippi MacDonald

Do Right, Say Right
Another Planet Music Ltd

Review by Anni Piper

Fortunately for the listener, Mississippi MacDonald isn’t trying to sell us the tasteless generic recipe of his namesake. A young British blues sensation, but one with plenty of experience, this is his sixth studio album. It’s bump-and-grind blues from beginning to end from this vocalist, guitarist and composer. MacDonald certainly has a way about him — just take a listen to the saucy “Let Me Explore Your Mind.” I must say I find the prospect of some nice gentleman asking me about my fantasies far more alluring than the usual bluesman suggestion of “Why don’t you come over here and check out my little red rooster?” Or even worse, “Squeeze my lemon.” Spare me, please.

Back to the bumping and grinding for a moment. In “Your Wife Is Cheating On Us,” the only cover song on the album, MacDonald righteously belts out the Denise LaSalle (Little Milton for the male gendered version) classic. But honestly, why get uptight about it? According to the 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior conducted by Indiana University School of Public Health, 4% of Americans are in a polyamorous relationship of some sort. Maybe MacDonald just didn’t lay out the ground rules to his girlfriend in a clear and succinct manner. Many relationship misunderstandings can be avoided this way, but then I suppose we wouldn’t have any blues emotions and situations left to sing about.

One element I must applaud is the use of dynamics in tracks like “If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee.” This is the first album I’ve listened to in a while that doesn’t just plod along at the same volume throughout. A tight band is given great direction by keyboardist, engineer and producer Phil Dearing. This is an excellent release, but if I were the Fairy Godmother of the Blues and could change just one thing with a wave of my magic wand, I would drop in a real horn section instead of using Dearing to take on this role. As one who has personal experience selling ice to the Eskimos, you had better make sure the ice has no cracks in it.

Total time: 46 minutes

I Was Wrong / I Heard It Twice / It Can’t Hurt Me / Drinker’s Blues / Let Me Explore Your Mind / That’s It I Quit / If You Want a Good Cup of Coffee / Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket / Your Wife Is Cheating On Us

Gov’t Mule – Heavy Load Blues - Fantasy

Gov’t Mule

Heavy Load Blues
Fantasy

Review by Kirk Anderson

From their first live show at Rivalry’s on Cherry in Macon, Ga., on June 11, 1994, Gov’t Mule peppered their first set list of 13 songs with four tunes by the blues originals from Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Elmore James and Muddy Waters.

Twenty-seven years later, Gov’t Mule has released 12 studio discs and 10 live discs along with more than 1 million downloads of band recordings of their live shows called “MULETRACKS” through their www.MULE.net website.

Gov’t Mule’s original lineup was a power trio with Warren Haynes on lead guitar and lead vocals, Allen Woody on bass and Matt Abts on drums. On Aug. 26, 2000, Allen Woody passed away and the once side gig to the Allman Brothers Band was in question. Many friends of the band chimed in to talk about loss within their own bands and how somehow finding a way forward was a real possibility.

Touring with short-term stand-in bassists Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), George Porter (The Meters) and Greg Rzab (Otis Rush, Buddy Guy) in the early 2000s gave the band time to figure it out. Gov’t Mule continued to tour under the “New School” nickname with guest bass players and keyboardists until they came back with former Warren Haynes’ band keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson, a Swedish-born-and-raised multi-instrumentalist, producer/mixer and composer in 2008 to form the current lineup.

As with almost any new CD lately, the ‘Rona virus looms large as during the worldwide shutdown, Haynes took the opportunity to keep writing as the band honed their own chops with livestreams, producing and honing their own prowess on the instruments of choice.

In one of the multitude of videos released by the band in anticipation of their Nov. 12, 2021, release of their newest studio CD, “Heavy Load Blues,” Haynes talks about talking with the band and management about how this new “Mule” album was going to come together. It was only three weeks prior to entering the studio that it became obvious that they would make a blues album. No, not three or four blues tunes. No, not most of the album. They would stretch back to their 1994 beginning. They would reach back into their world of musical influences. The answer was obvious: a mid-1950s to mid-1970s-era full album recording of the blues.

The next question was where? According to Haynes, they had to find the right studio where they could set up old-style dirty. They wanted everyone in the same room, no headphones and within earshot of each other.  No vocals booth, no Plexiglas around the drums. Every artist would be able to see each other and their inflections.  All of the recording equipment in the next room. They wanted to more sonically represent the vibe they were trying to produce for Gov’t Mule’s first blues album.

Power Station New England in Connecticut was selected. The band members set up small vintage gear.  Warren admits that most of the equipment was older than he is (born April 6, 1960).  Everything was recorded live to analog tape. Warren pulled upon his years of recording experience alongside engineer and co-producer John Paterno.

So the stage was set for recording. In the Gov’t Mule way, this is a studio effort, but with the musicians all being in one room, the takes were not a cut-and-paste hodgepodge as most studio recordings are. The Mule’s element of live music came through as a vast majority of the release has few over-dubs and little technological wizardry. Hard to get that authentic mid-’50s to mid-‘70s bluesman recording sound with millions of dollars of electronic recording equipment and tone normalizers. Listen for yourself. Did their effort work?

“Heavy Load Blues” proper is a single-disc, 13 track (80 minutes of music) recording released Nov. 12, 2021. (There is also a deluxe two-CD set released with an additional eight tracks totaling another 60 minutes of music.). In the lead-up to the release, Gov’t Mule released videos and singles of “Heavy Load Blues,” “Snatch It Back and Hold It” and “Make It Rain.”  A Gov’t Mule original, a bluesman Junior Wells cover and a cover of American composing icon Tom Waits gave us an idea of the mix of songs coming at us. These and a steady release of other “Heavy Load Blues” official and Visualizer videos are up on YouTube. Check out the band talking about and showing you how they made these tunes.

On Oct. 29, 2021, Gov’t Mule returned to their old stomping grounds — The Tabernacle in Atlanta — to play the entire “Heavy Load Blues” release in order. The Tabernacle is a decommissioned old church turned house of blues turned top-rate midsized music venue in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park.

Most of the tunes run between 4 and 7 minutes with the cover of huge Haynes influence Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” which clocks in at a little over 9 minutes.  OK, so I guess we found something in this disc that doesn’t stick with the recording standards of the mid-‘50s to mid-‘70s. Pop songs usually clock in between 2 minutes 45 seconds to 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Other covers of note include Bobby Blue Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” stretching blues to rhythm and blues to Elmore James’ “Blues Before Sunrise” to Ann Peebles’ “I Feel like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.”  Each rendition feels familiar, while the band members insert their own feelings at the time to show how the tune influenced them.

The original blues tracks were the culmination of years of writing and a COVID-19 lockdown that made fertile ground for the writing process. The Gov’t Mule website has a description that hits the feeling of the originals into perspective.

“Woke up singing a dead man’s song …” is the opening line from the Warren Haynes original “Heavy Load,” a line of imagery that feels like the beginning of dirt. On this album, the iconic American band puts their unique stamp on a collection of blues covers and originals

According to the Nov. 24, 2021, issue of Volatile Weekly, “Heavy Load Blues” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues album chart making it Gov’t Mule’s third album to debut at No. 1. “Heavy Load Blues” also reached No. 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers in Blues chart and No. 2 on the Apple Music Blues Albums chart, No. 3 on the Music Connect Current Rock chart as well as No. 16 in Germany, No. 33 in Switzerland, No. 48 in the UK and top 100 entries in Italy and the Netherlands.

Track list

Blues Before Sunrise / Hole In My Soul / Wake Up Dead / Love is a Mean Old World / Snatch It Back and Hold It / Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City / (Brother Bill) Last Clean Shirt / Make It Rain / Heavy Load / Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home / If Heartaches Were Nickels / I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) / Blue Horizon

Bonus disc

Hiding Place / You Know My Love / Street Corner Talking / Have Mercy on the Criminal / Long Distance Call / Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home (extended version) / Need Your Love So Bad (live) / Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (live)

Rusty Ends Blues Band Rusty Ends Blues Band - Earwig Music Co.

Rusty Ends Blues Band

Rusty Ends Blues Band
Earwig Music Co.

Review by Anni Piper

There is something timeless about blues music, and that’s one of the reasons we are drawn to it like moths to a flame.

First impressions upon listening to this album were immediately of James Harman or Little Charlie and the Nightcats. This is traditional guitar-and harmonica-fueled blues driven by Rusty Ends and Jim Rosen respectively. Curious as to why this recording had such an authentic old-school sound? It’s explained by reading the liner notes. This album was made in 1996 when the aforementioned artists were at their peak. An unfortunately timed release, coincided with a record label folding, is why we are only hearing this music now. Don’t let that discourage you from giving it a listen, because although it may now officially be a period piece, that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable.

“High Powered Loving Man,” “Secrets in the Street,” and the New Orleans-inspired “High Beams are my standout tracks. Always blues-oriented, there is still a variety of feels on this album, from snappy shuffles to stoner reggae.

Louisville, Ky., is home to Ends and his band, an area that geographically isn’t really part of the South, Midwest or East Coast, but floats somewhere in between. There is a little of everything, as Ends himself puts it, “….Kentucky burgoo is just a soup or a stew that they just throw everybody in it. They throw in rabbit. They throw in squirrel. They throw in groundhog. And that’s what our music is.”

Well put, sir. This album mixes blues with all kinds of roots, and it’s had some time to simmer nicely.

Total time 52 minutes

What Next? / Secrets in the Street / Blue Shadows / I Wanna Know / A Man Can’t Understand a Woman / Sinner’s Strut / High Powered Loving Man / Something Wrong Going On / Don’t Call It Love / Heart Stealer / Broken Dreams for Sale / Sloppy Joe Blues / I’m Searching / Whips and Chains / One Step Forward / High Beams / The One WIsh

The Porkroll Project Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right Roadhouse Redemption Records

The Porkroll Project

Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right
Roadhouse Redemption Records

Review by Anni Piper

When I was 12 years old and transitioning from classical flute to the sphere of electrified instruments, my older brother brought home a copy of “Led Zeppelin II.” It was a defining moment in my musical life as I heard Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones thrashing out the opening riff of “Whole Lotta Love.” My 12-year-old self might have described it as making my brain feel all tingly, but my modern self would describe it as my basilar membrane bouncing around like a trampoline, resulting in sensory information being relayed to my auditory association area.

In any case, I felt something similar when I heard the opening notes of “Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right.” It caught my attention, not like a slap in the face, but more like a stolen kiss. Subsequent listens still made my hair stand on end. Neil “Porkroll” Taylor is a superb frontman, a quadruple threat who is not only a guitarist, composer and vocalist, but a legit pitmaster to boot. And damn, I’m hungry for some slow cooked blues.

While the stories in the lyrics are thematically blues-oriented, they’re refreshing and original. Like I ordered a shot of tequila, but it came with a cinnamon rim and an orange wedge instead of salt and lime, I’m excited rather than disappointed.

“Mama Put the Gun Down,” “Better You Than Me and “Nothin’ Yet” are well crafted originals, but the standout for me is the title track. The cover of The Coasters’ “Down In Mexico,” featuring David Renz on saxophone, is another notable evocative track to take you South of the Border. Recorded at Noisy Little Critter Studio in their home of Philadelphia, if you like electric guitar-driven blues with a harder edge – which I certainly do – you are going to love this album.

“Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right” never mentions the act of sex, yet throughout the album I am constantly thinking bow-chicka-bow-chicka-bow! It’s got just the right amount of funkiness, and just the right amount of nastiness in these grooves, to make me think it’s lovin’ o’clock. My favorite part of the artwork is the disc itself, featuring a slice of porkroll with a few bites taken out. You have to dig a band with a sense of humor.

Total time: 57 minutes

Papa Didn’t Raise Me Right / Down in Mexico / Going to the Station / Crescent Moon / Better You Than Me / Mama Put the Gun Down / Dancing With the Angels / Nothin’ Yet / The Next Thing Smokin’ / Sentenced to the Blues / A Taste of Malt Liquor

Chris Daniels Hazel Miller Dana Marsh & Friends

Chris Daniels, Hazel Miller, Dana Marsh & Friends

What We Did
Moon Voyage Records

Review by John Taylor

You know most of these songs, but you don’t know them like this.

“What We Did,” an album born of a virtual concert to ease the isolation of the pandemic and to raise money for Inner City Health in Colorado, grew to be something no one, including the performers, quite expected.

Chris Daniels, Hazel Miller, Dana Marsh and their friends recorded two live sets — five songs in July 2020 and five more in October 2020 — with no overdubs. Miller took the lead on vocals, Marsh covered the keyboards and Daniels added acoustic and electric guitars.

The result is a masterpiece of musical versatility that feels like a group of friends gathering around a piano for an evening of smiles and singalongs.

Daniels remembers it like this in the liner notes: “When we heard it, we sat back and started laughing because it was so much fun and Hazel said, “Look at what we did!”

The trio — with the help of Todd Park Mohr, Victor Wooten, Sam Bush, Kenny Passarelli, Greg Garrison, Christian Teele, Tom Capek, Mark Oblinger and Linda Lawson – slips effortlessly out of tight blues and into some easy-listening classics.

Not everybody can slide from songs like “Down Home Blues,” “Stealin’ Candy” or the Albert King blues standard “Born Under a Bad Sign” into feel-good favorites like “Cheek to Cheek,” “What a Wonderful World” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

These folks can, though – and they make it look easy. (They even take a little side trip to “Kansas City” at one point.)

Northwesterners might not be as familiar with Daniels, but he and his seven-piece outfit, The Kings, have been around since 1984 and are enshrined in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

It’s easy to see why.

It’s as flawless as any polished studio album around, and its genuineness feels like a nice, warm blanket to get you through a cold, lonely night.

This is good medicine for a nation that’s been suffering with the COVID crisis for nearly two years. It’s hip, happy and hopeful.

We recommend you take two listens and call us in the morning.

And it’s not too late to help the album’s original purpose, by the way. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the endeavor go to Inner City Health, which treats underserved populations in the Denver area. To make a direct donation, visit https://innercityhealth.org

Total Time: 43:50

Takin’ It to the Streets / Born Under a Bad Sign / Cheek to Cheek / I’m Still Lookin’ / Could You Believe / What a Wonderful World / Down Home Blues / Stealin’ Candy / You’ve Got a Friend / Better Days

Tas Cru

Broke Down Busted Up
Subcat Records

Review by Anni Piper

This is the first acoustic album I have heard from a festival favorite who is known for his electric guitar prowess.

The pandemic affected every aspect of the entertainment industry. Cru has certainly taken inspiration from the isolation, his original compositions coming across as hopeful yet poignant. An artist who won’t be pigeonholed into any particular style, it’s interesting that Cru has chosen a time of modern apocalypse to release a rootsy acoustic album. After all, it’s still possible that we all end up in some kind of “Walking Dead” scenario in which society crumbles and there’s no electricity. So for me, this is a perfectly logical choice.

They say never judge a book by its cover, but this album cover tells me a lot about what I’m about to hear. Cru cradles an attractive acoustic guitar, leaning casually against a rust bucket with a bullet-hole riddled windshield.

The personality-filled performance of Anne Harris highlights many of these tracks. Clearly, she’s been down to Georgia and come back with a golden fiddle. The title track is the most radio friendly, a funky little number that showcases the talents of the entire ensemble.

Speaking of the entire ensemble, Mary Ann Casale co-wrote some of these numbers and is featured on vocal and dulcimer. Dave Liddy on keys, Garry Loiaono on guitar, Andy Hearn on drums, and bassists Mike Lawrence and Bob Purdy all bring their strengths to this recording.

It’s engineered and mixed by Ron Keck, who is also featured as a percussionist on the album. Being no stranger to the studio myself, I have found the engineer often ends up making this specific contribution to the recording. The drums sound so fantastic that I wasn’t surprised to find Keck is a world champion snare player. He’s mixed this recording with the kind of love and care that Grandma mixes into your favorite cookies.

I did most of my listening as I was driving and I deem it a most suitable soundtrack to take your mind off the grind. Tas Cru has delivered an album perfect for cruising.

Total time: 46 minutes

Where Do We Go / Broke Down Busted Up / Turn On the Light / River of Insanity / Be My Strength / All Stays the Same / You’re the Real Deal / Stay Home Blues/ So Damn Hard to Like / Henry / Write Me My Own

Johnny Tucker feat. Kid Ramos and the Allstars

Johnny Tucker
feat. Kid Ramos and the Allstars

75 and Alive
Blue Heart Records and Highjohn Records

Reviewed by John Taylor

Following the 2018 success of Johnny Tucker’s acclaimed, but austere “Seven Day Blues,” his manager, Bob Auerbach, figured it was time to open things up.

So Auerbach invited L.A. guitarist Kid Ramos and pianist Carl Sonny Leyland to pull together some serious talent and build a backup band for Tucker.

And boy, did they: John Bazz on electric and standup bass, Jason Lozano on drums, Ron Dziubla on sax and Bob Corritore on harp signed on as the Allstars.

Then Auerbach cleared the floor and let ’em play. The result? A genuine, one-take recording among friends on Tucker’s 75th birthday.

From the downbeat of the album’s first song, “All Night Long, All Night Wrong,” you know you’re in for a treat. Tucker’s voice summons distant, but distinct, styles – old-school Chicago, West Coast jump, New Orleans R&B.

The Fresno, Calif., native – who cut his teeth beating rhythms on pots and pans during family jam sessions – sings with the hard-earned authority of an artist and the joy of a master.

His casual asides and between-song conversations speak to his comfort level with his craft and his collaborators. And as the songs unwind, the mood relaxes.

Ramos and the Allstars frame Tucker’s vocals with stylish takes on traditional sounds. Ramos channels Albert Collins, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, while Bazz, Dziubla, Corritore and Lozano add rhythms, riffs and notes so sweet and spot-on that you’d swear they’d been playing together for decades.

“It just flowed in my head,” Tucker explains in the album’s liner notes. “I didn’t know what I was going to say until I said it. So it came out beautiful, man. Everything was right on time, like I’ve been doing the same songs for a long time, and that’s the first time I did it.”

Tucker devoted the CD to his wife, Georgia May Tucker, who sat in on the session, but passed before the album’s release. Wherever she is, we’re betting she loves this collection as much as we do.

This is one of the most authentic and enjoyable albums we’ve heard in a long time. We recommend you buy at least two copies – you’re either gonna want to pass one along to a friend, or you’re gonna wear out your own in a very short time.

 

 

 

 

 

Total Time: 51:18

 

All Night Long, All Night Wrong / There’s a Time for Love / If You Ever Love Me / Can’t You See / What’s the Matter / Treat Me Good / Snowplow / What’s On My Mind / Hookline / Dance Like I Should / Have a Good Time Tonight / Gotta Do It One More Time

Elly Wininger – The Blues Never End

Elly Wininger

The Blues Never End
Earwig Music Company

Reviewed by Anni Piper

Lulled into a false sense of security by the innocuous cover art, Wininger had me fooled for the first few minutes of the listening experience. Styling some silver bangs and sensible glasses on the front jacket of ‘The Blues Never End,” I must confess my first thoughts were of my favorite auntie or diner waitress.

“Oh, this will continue to be a nice ambling lazy Sunday mix of country, folk and Delta blues,” I said to myself, and went about my morning. That is, until Wininger launches into “Alabama Blues” and I realize I have been duped. Favorite auntie, she is not. Wininger is akin to a Valkyrie atop a flaming chariot, a veritable Boadicea of the blues, a badass in a bronze breastplate leading an army of amazons. Her lyrics are a scathing indictment of the restrictions that are being placed on access to abortion, and she also references incest as the reason for needing the procedure. This song could not be more relevant right now. Wininger’s boldness and courage in tackling these issues in her art, in the context of an America that’s as divided as a quotient, has to be commended.

It’s not just “Alabama Blues” that will get your attention. All the original numbers on this album glow like a white dress in a nightclub. From the slinky, sultry “Right Kind of Trouble” to the Zydeco bop of “(I Wanna Be Like) Rosie,” Wininger has obviously earned her place in the New York Blues Hall of Fame. She showcases her diverse understanding of blues styles, using a range of instrumentation, in tracks such as Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Black Snake Moan.” However, most of this album is carried by Wininger herself on vocal and guitar, and damn, she carries it well.

Total time: 51 minutes

Let That Liar Alone / Skinny Legs Blues / Right Kind Of Trouble / Special Rider Blues / Alabama Blues / The Blues Never End / (I Wanna Be Like) Rosie / As The Crow Flies / Black Snake Moan / God Moves On The Water / Range In My Kitchen / Leavin’ Blues / Old Riley

 

 

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 

Altered Five Blues Band - Holler If You Hear Me

Altered Five Blues Band

Holler If You Hear Me
Blind Pig Records, Sept. 3, 2021

Review by Anni Piper

You might think volunteering for your local blues society would be all sassafras and tedium. However, that would be terribly misguided as there are perks involved, including being the first to hear great new music like this.

“Holler If You Hear Me” is the sixth studio offering from the Altered Five Blues Band, featuring 13 original tracks penned by guitarist Jeff Schroedl. The title track opens this release, and keyboardist Raymond Tevich lets you know you’re going to church. Quickly you realize, with the addition of wailing harmonica from special guest Jason Ricci, that the service is being held in a sawdust-strewn roadhouse.

Frontman Jeff Taylor plays the exuberant preacher and repentant sinner in equal measure. His commanding vocal presence draws your attention to the snappy storytelling in the lyrics. This is a collection of lyrical bluesman’s tales, each track an unglorified depiction of a life lived hard and fast – drinking, smoking and chasing women.

It’s more sophisticated than the “Got my whiskey, got my gin, come on now baby won’t you let me in” school of lyric writing. For example there’s more modern and relatable lines like “I got Ketel One and Keb Mo’ when I’m feeling low” in the moody “I Got All I Need.” Bassist Mark SOlveson and drummer Alan Arber drive solid grooves on booty shakers such as “Full Moon, Half Crazy” and “All Suit, No Soul.”

Masterful production from Tom Hambridge contributes to the success of this recording. The layering of instrumentation is never obtrusive. I love the way the guitar has been made to sound so close up and personal. This is achieved by using a lot of the sound from the small room the amplifier was placed in when recording. When this isn’t done correctly, it feels like getting stuck in a broom closet with the guitarist. But Hambridge shows just how to get it right, and there is such an intimacy created that I could be curled up on one end of my couch with guitarist Schroedl at the other.

Altered Five Blues Band has delivered a funky, contemporary blues album that’s both joyous and gritty. When are they coming to Portland?