Monday, September 15, 2008

Review: Todd Wolfe "Borrowed Time"

Todd Wolfe is a heavy blues guitar slinger. He was the lead guitarist in Sheryl Crow's band 1993-1998, and then he led the Todd Wolfe Blues Project, and here is a solo disc. There are a lot of things to like about this disc--some of it seems to echo Santana, some of it echoes Leslie West circa Mountain, some of it sounds like Cream. In tone and style of guitar, this disc also reminds me a little of Albert Castiglia's latest, "These Are The Days." (see my review of Albert's disc on this blog in 2007.) Both discs feature good fretwork, lots of original songs, good backing bands. They are both well worth buying.

The drumming by Dave Hollingsworth III here is a highlight throughout. Suavek Zaniesienko plays bass, keeping things full in the bottom, and Michael Fossa plays keyboards with taste and restraint. There are guest appearances on "Borrowed Time" by Leslie West, Susan Cowsill, Mary Hawkins. Susan Cowsill adds distinctive backing vocals on "California," a song co-written by Sheryl Crow. Mary Hawkins sings on "If This is Love," which is terrific--one of the best songs here. Wolfe's slide guitar work had me smiling and thinking of Ronnie Earl. "Baby I'm Down" has a southern rock, Allman Brothers Band feel. "You're Not The Only One" has a Cream vibe, with heavy echo on the vocals and very sweet guitar work. Wolfe tackles the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac tune "Oh Well" and does it quite well, with a train-pulling-into-the-station ending. The other cover here is Howling Wolf's song "Who's Been Talking," and I think the master would approve of this take.

Taken all together, this is a very good disc. If I gave stars, this one would be a 5 star disc. I'm excited about Todd Wolfe. He can play guitar great and he sings really well, and the future looks bright. This disc is on Blues Leaf Records.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Scissormen "Luck In A Hurry" (Vizztone)

Scissormen is a two man group based in Nashville--Ted Drozdowski on slide guitar and vocals, Rob Hulsman on drums. I've been listening to these guys since 2006 and they just keep getting better. "Luck in a Hurry" is their best cd yet. Ted D is a GREAT slide guitar player coming from the R L Burnside tradition, and Hulsman is a really good drummer. This time out they bring forth nine originals and two covers of live in the studio, high-energy blues. Guests on this set include Billy Conway, drummer for Morphine, on "Junior's Blues," veteran blues pianist Teo Leyasmeyer, and Dicky Barrett, vocalist for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on "Whiskey And Maryjane," which also guests Ted D's psychedelic rock band The Devil Gods. Highlights include the great opener from their live shows "Tupelo," and "Mattie Sweet Mattie" is full of menace and control, the best thing on the disc. There is a howling guitar break on "Preachin' the Blues," the great vocal on "The Devil is Laughing." Everything Teo Leyasmeyer touches here is improved by his tasteful piano work. The cover of "John The Revelator" is great Bo Diddley-styled hot rockabilly blues. Quibbles? I wish they hadn't done "Death Letter," which is starting to get stale for me. Need to know more? Anthony DeCurtis has proclaimed Ted "a guitarist of spellbinding invention and intelligence. His slide playing shears the skin off your bones...." High praise. "Luck in a Hurry" is available at