Tuesday, June 27, 2017
There was another leap forward with his next release, 2013's "The Rock House Sessions." on Blue Heat Records. The album received great reviews and was also nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award in 2014 for “Best Blues Rock Album of the year”. The album was recorded at Rock House Studios owned by acclaimed keyboardist Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton Band) – hence the album name.
In all those albums, Chambers was digging in a familiar vein--there was a clear connection between his start as guitarist and band leader for Hubert Sumlin in 1998-2003 and the solo albums. Well, with this release Chambers has raised his game yet another leap forward--more fire, more passion, more consistency, just lots of more better stuff! The core band on the album is Sean on lead vocals and lead guitar, Michael Hensley on Hammond B3 & keyboards, Todd Cook on bass and Kris Schnebelen on drums. Special guests include Jimmy Bennett on guitar on track #8, John Ginty on Hammond B3 on track #4, and Andrei Koribaniks on percussion on tracks #1 and #7. Trouble & Whiskey features 7 new original Sean Chambers compositions, and 3 well chosen covers including “Bullfrog Blues” by Rory Gallagher, ‘Cut Off My Right Arm” by Johnny Copeland and “Be Careful With A Fool” by Riley B. King/Joe Bihari. My favorite songs here are the title track and "Bottle Keeps Staring At Me." The title track recalls the style and fire of Johnny Winter--and "Bottle" is, in my opinion, perhaps the best blues rock song of the year so far. And I must confess a soft spot for anybody who covers "Bullfrog Blues" well. Sean's version is, dare I say it, touching on Rory Gallagher territory. Top Ten album of the year candidate.
"Guitarist Chambers achieves the distinctly American blues/soul/country/rock sound that the Stones used to aspire to long ago." - Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY
You can buy this cd at http://www.seanchambers.com/ or at i-tunes.com/
Monday, June 26, 2017
Hurricane Ruth LeMasters was raised in the blues. Her father owned the Glendale Tavern in Beardstown Illinois. Her love of the blues led to a life singing the blues--and that life has now resulted in this release "Ain't Ready For The Grave." Ruth enlisted Tom Hambridge, mega hit-man producer, songwriter, drumming master and Grammy winner, to work his magic on 12 tracks, recorded in Nashville with a group of A-list players; Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan) on keys, Michael Rhodes (Joe Bonamassa) on bass, guitarists Pat Buchanan (Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney) and Rob McNelley (Delbert McClinton), who all together make a deep and wide pocket for Ruth's vocal artistry.
I can't describe the album any better, song by song, than Rick J Bowen does on Ruth's website:
The album kicks off with the good time blues ‘Barrelhouse Joe’s’ setting the scene of Friday night at a juke joint just like her old man’s place. Ruth then lays out her modus operandi as self-described ‘Hard Rockin’ Woman,’ with gritty vocals over a driving four on the floor house rockin’ blues. The album title comes from a line in the low-down blues ‘Far From The Cradle,’ with Ruth delivering testimony to her musical mission. Ruth chastises a young woman for messing with a married man on the smoking hot ‘Estilene.’ Hambridge lays down a fat boogaloo beat for the playful dance track ‘Beekeeper’ and Wynans tickles the ivories ramping up the drama of the classic slow blues ‘My Heart Aches For You.’ An ice-pickin’ groove and razor sharp vocals are featured on the tight track ‘Cheating Blues.’ The crew then goes for broke, taking on an AC/DC classic ‘Whole Lotta Rosie,’ delivering it with fury and southern rock sizzle. Some blistering slide guitar and swampy drums punctuate the provocative ‘For A Change,’ and the double shuffle, ‘Let Me Be The One,’ feels like one of the top ten hits Hambridge wrote for Susan Tedeschi. The legendary McCrary Sisters join Ruth for the saucy soul rocker ‘Good Stuff’ and the album’s gospel encore ‘Yes I Know,’ adding pure joy to the Sunday go-to-meeting revival.
Suffice to say this is the best album of Ruth's career, and clearly a Top Ten Of 2017 nominee. On every song here Ruth and the band take your ears and your soul for a joyful ride. When you finish listening to this one, you'll want to hear it again.
You can buy this cd at: https://hurricaneruth.com/
Monday, June 19, 2017
Jeffrey Halford & The Healers burst onto my radar back in 2015 when I became hooked by their album "Rainmaker." I didn't know then that Jeffrey Halford had made 6 albums before that one, and I didn't know anything about his background. All I knew was that the music on Rainmaker sounded authentic. That was enough for me--I made room in my life for a real good band. Well, here comes a new release from these guys. Lo Fi Dreams is all I have come to expect and even more.
The band here is Halford on vocals and guitar, Bill Macbeath on bass, and Adam Rossi on keys and drums. Guests include Jimmy Dewrance on harp on two songs, and Tom Heyman on steel and guitar on two tracks. The album was recorded in San Francisco.
Let me say this up front: This is a real good album. The songwriting is top-notch, and the guitar work, while sometimes a bit less flashy than it could be, is very solid. While this music may not be textbook blues-- i-tunes even calls it country--the music here strikes my ears as an example of "Cosmic American Music", a hybrid of country, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, and rock, a phrase used by the late and great musician Gram Parson. The feel of Lo Fi Dreams, like Rainmaker before it, is similar to music made by Tony Jo White, or Ray Wylie Hubbard, or early John Hiatt. It contains stories told with honest and sparse musical accompaniment. My favorite song here is Two Jacksons, a tale of a thrift store jacket.
I am going to give the final word to Paul Liberatore, who writes for the Marin Independent Journal:
"With this album, Halford stays the course he’s set as a troubadour of truth, writing songs in the tradition of the American storytellers who used their voices and their guitars to elevate ordinary people and comment on the human condition."
He got it exactly right.
You can buy this cd at i-tunes or at your favorite music outlet.