Blues Review – 4-4-23

Nalani Rothrock – The Rock House Sessions (Jolani Music) – Nalani has such a great soulful voice that reminds me a little of Bonnie Raitt on her first song on this new album, “Every Time I Close My Eyes”. Nalani and her significant other, Joshua Lamkin, are both great musicians hailing from Florida. Joshua plays guitar and helps with song writing and producing for the group. Recording and mixing is by Grammy-winner Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, George Benson, John Hiatt, Buddy Guy, Devon Allman….) at his Rock House Studio in Franklin, TN. This album has high production value. This is probably considered a Soul/Country Genre album, but I hear lots of different music in Nalani’s sound, even some Blues. Most of the Album showcases Nalani’s voice. Her second song on the album, “Fool For You”, is a slow starting song with a nice sprinkling of muted trumpet in the background. “Midnight” is a kind of Bossa Nova tune that is co-written by Nalani and Josuha, as are most of the songs on this album. I think my favorite from this album is “Every Time I Close My Eyes”. Listen Here. This gets 4 in the blues content and an 8 on music content.

Ally Venable – Real Gone (Ruf Records) – Ally Venable, 23 years old, is a Texas guitar slinger and singer that has already made a name for herself on the music scene in Texas and now the world with her 3rd CD release of “Real Gone”. A Blues/Rock based CD filled with screaming guitar and great song writing done by Ally and her team. Think Jimi Hendrix, SRV and Joe Bonamassa guitar licks with a gravely female voice, perfect combination. Produced by Grammy winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi), this album features guest appearances by Joe Bonamassa and living legend Buddy Guy. December 2022, Guitar World named Ally one of the Top 15 ‘Young Guns.’ That same year, she received the Road Warrior Award from the Independent Blues Music Awards. Additionally, she performed as a featured artist on the Experience Hendrix Show in Austin, TX, appearing alongside Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Zack Wilde, Eric Johnson, and Dweezil Zappa, to name a few. Title song, “Real Blues”, is a full heads forward rock tune with lots of Whammy guitar and wonderful vocals. Ally can definitely play a guitar!! Growling, Screaming leads throughout this CD. “Broken and Blue” is a slow ballad that Ally really shines with her voice and add Joe Bonamassa’s guitar leads really makes for a showstopper of a song on this album. “Texas Louisianna” is a fun upbeat Blues song which showcases Buddy Guy on shared Vocals and that signature guitar sound that only Buddy can provide. Great songs throughout, but I think my favorite from this album is “Blues Is My Best Friend”. This is an acoustic slide tune that really shows Ally’s range as an artist but I think I will share one of Ally’s live tunes to get a feel on what a monster guitar player this Lady is. Ally’s version of Voodoo Child. Listen Here. This gets a 9 in blues content and a 9 on music content.

Big harp George – Cut My Spirit Loose (Blues Mountain Records) – BH George is not your typical life long bar playing musician, but instead George is a Lawyer and Criminal Defense Attorney. This career has put his musician days on hold for many years although George kept his study of the Harmonica going from Diatonic Blues Harp to Chromatic (which is super hard to correctly play). One day he was asked to record some harp on one song for a new Joe Louis Walker album. From this experience he started putting together a band and playing out again. George has a ton of musicians contributing to this newest CD, including his core of Kid Anderson on guitar, Chris Burns on Keyboards, June Core on Drums and Michael Peloquin on Sax and Mike Rinta on trombone and tuba. This album reminds me a lot of a big band sound that would be playing the Copa. The Chromatic Harp works well with the other instruments on this album and George’s vocals fit in, giving it a very authentic sound that I don’t think I have heard before. All of the songs are written by BH George except for track 5, a Beatles tune “She’s a Woman”. A very diverse album with instrumentals scattered throughout. I think my favorite from this album is “Behind the Eight Ball”. Listen Here. This gets a 7 in blues content and a 7 on music content.

Fred Davis -Cleveland Blues (Colemine Records) – Well this is an amazing story and a sad one. The story goes that Fred Davis was a Blues guitar player and singer back in the 60’s but rarely played out. His best friend at the time decided to record Fred and a few musicians on 1/4″ tape so that they could have a recording to get gigs. They never used the tape, Fred went on to play some gigs locally but his life was ended in a liquor store hold up. His friend always spoke on what an amazing musician he was and that Fred could play guitar like T-bone Walker and sing like J B Lenoir. Sixty years later the 1/4″ tape was found in a small white box. This CD is that recording mastered as much as it could be. The sound is actually pretty good (not to today’s standards), very Mono and super authentic. The first track is “Wine Hop” and is a period Jump Blues song with some great sloppy leads that I really like!! “Drifting Blues” is a T-bone Walker type progression slow blues that brings back visions of Juke Joints. “Midnight is Falling” is done both acoustically and full band on this CD, and really shows Fred’s higher voice. I think my favorite from this album is “Wine Hop”. Listen Here. This gets the 10 in blues content and a 9 on music content.

Big Shoes – Fresh Tracks (Self Produced) – Big Shoes, based out of Nashville, has released their 3rd recording Fresh Tracks. Labeled as a Roots Music Band, I find most of their music very country based. Rick Huckaby on lead vocals and guitar; Mark T. Jordan on piano, B3 and background vocals; Will McFarlane on guitar and slide guitar; Kenne Cramer on guitar; Tom Szell on bass; Lynn Williams on drums; and Bryan Brock on percussion. Additional guest artists include: Shaun Murphy and Vickie Carrico on background vocals; Dana Robbins on horn arrangements and saxophones; and Quentin Ware on trumpet. The track “If The Blues Was Green” reminds me of a Dr. John in voice and piano and is probably the most Blues based song on this CD. “There Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do” is a nice island Caribbean music style song that shows the band’s versatility. I really set my mind on sitting down and listening to a stack of Blues CDs when I do a review. This one left me short just because it was so Country. But the more I listen to it, the more I like it. I think my favorite from this album is “Drunk On Love”. Listen Here. This gets a 3 in blues content and a 7 on music content.

Review’s done by Juke Jackson, Don’t blame the Station!!

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