Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers -- "Heal My Soul"

Let me state right at the beginning that I love this cd! It is by turns old-timey, un-traditional and post-modern blues and rock. This is their sixth album, with ten terrific songs, nine of which are originals.

The band includes Lex Grey on vocals, Vic Mix on guitars and production, Kaia Updike on Hammond organ violin and accordion, Leo Binetti and Adam Price on bass and John Holland and Matt Messenger on drums. Walter Tates Jr guests on saxophone. Anthony Michael guests on clarinet. Adam Price guests on violin and bass. Brian Dewan guests on zither, auto harp, toy piano, and theremin. "Piano" Pete Mttei guests on piano. Greg "Hornhog" Holt guests on fiddle.

The feel of the album is similar, style-wise, to the last two or three albums from Sunday Wilde, who mines the rural Canadian blues tradition. But Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers are bringing forth music from the urban folk-blues rock stew. A New York version of an eclectic band not dissimilar to Jason Vivone & The Billy Bats here in Kansas City. The singing and playing here is uniformly excellent and there is plenty of stylistic variety to please a listener. All the songs here are blues radio-worthy. I especially enjoy the songs "Factory" and "Ghost." I could imagine "Ghost" being an outtake from an early Jefferson Airplane session. "Survive" is also quite good, with an Amy Winehouse style vocal wrapped around an old Steppenwolf guitar track. The title track. "Heal My Soul," is a 7+ minute jam and everybody seems to really let loose. While I was writing this review I have been  listening to a lot of Leon Russell and The Shelter People from 1970-1973, and I can readily imagine Mr Russell smiling from the side of the studio at this song. It is all by itself worth the price of the set.  
Lex Grey and The Urban Pioneers are a group you and I need to get more familiar with, especially their back catalog. Highly recommended. You can buy this cd at or on I-tunes.