Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jim Byrnes "Everywhere West"

Jim Byrnes is a guitarist, a singer, songwriter and a musicologist--and he is terrific at all. He is originally from St Louis, but he has been a Canadian blues treasure for more than 30 years. His latest cd "Everywhere West" is his fourth for Black Hen Music and his eighth overall. This marks the fourth collaboration between Byrnes and producer/multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson, and this may be the best work they have done together so far. The band includes Byrnes on guitar and vocal & Dawson on slide guitar, banjo, and dobro, Chris Gestrin on organ, and Dawson studio regulars Keith Lowe on bass and Geoff Hicks on drums. On four songs they are augmented by a 3 piece horn section featuring Daniel Lapp on trumpet, Bill Runge and Jerry Cook on saxes. Lapp also plays a beautiful fiddle lead on "No Mail Blues." Four of the songs are Byrnes originals ("Hot As A Pistol," "Storm Warning," and "Me And Piney Brown"), three are traditional songs ("Bootlegger's Blues," "No Mail Blues," and "He Was A Friend Of Mine"), one is by Steve Dawson ("Walk On"), and there are covers of Jimmy Reed ("Take Out Some Insurance On Me"), Robert Johnson ("From Four Until Late"), Louis Jordan ("You Can't Get That Stuff No More"), and Lowell Folsom ("Black Nights"), and the Bass/Thompson "Yield Not to Temptation."

I listened to this cd four of five times before I even started thinking about writing a review of it. Now thatb I've written the review, I expect I'll be listening to it a lot more. Each song spins out and captures my ears. This is good music in a variety of blues styles, timeless music well played. As Byrnes writes in the liner notes, "Everywhere West" is dedicated to 'those who came before,' but this music doesn't belong in a museum. Check it out for yourself --this is the best cd to come out of Canada this year.

You can buy it at

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