New Blues & Soul News – 6/23/2020
Brother Jefferson – Reflections (Blue Lotus): Based in St. Louis for some decades, Brother Jefferson creates most of his songs and that means somewhat laid back with a drawl and a taste of Chuck Berry. He also plays rhythm guitar just fine. Backing players are Brian Massey (bass, backing vocals, rainstick), Ian Buschmann (sax), Shane Maguire (drums) and Paul Niehaus IV (lead guitar, keys, vibra-slap, shaker) with special guest Kyle Yarldey (harmonica). No frills and just enough thrills! Click here to catch a live version of a song on this disc.
Arsen Shomakhov – Rain City Blues (Rain City Blues): “A Maple Blues Awards nominee, guitarist, songwriter and singer Arsen Shomakhov is an electric blues performer truly dedicated to the style’s roots yet never hesitating to borrow means of expression from other genres. He established himself as a blues-devoted virtuoso musician in his native Russia making it to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in 2005 and winning the new talent contest at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AR in 2007.” (http://www.arsenshomakhov.ca/bio.html) This is his fourth release and he wrote or co-wrote all of the set. He is backed by Kid Andersen (electric and upright bass, Hammond B3, piano, and vibes), Alexander Pettersen and June Core (sharing drums) and Ari Kumar (harmonica on the opening song). It’s a straight ahead party time disc. Click here to listen to three songs from this disc.
Too Slim & The Taildraggers – The Remedy (VizzTone / Underworld): “Recorded in Nashville at Taildragger’s bassist Zach Kasik’s Wild Feather Recording studio THE REMEDY, produced by Too Slim and the Taildraggers, features ten new original songs and a cover of the Elmore James classic “Sunnyland Train.” There’s lots of big guitars plus some well-placed banjo, slide guitar, and serious harmony vocals from the band — the continuing evolution of the Taildragger sound. The new release ranges from straight ahead Blues to Blues Rock and Americana. Also featured are guest appearances from some of the band’s favorite harmonica players – Jason Ricci, Richard Rosenblatt and Sheldon Ziro.” Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of two songs on this disc.
Bettye LaVette – Blackbird (Verve): Bettye LaVette offers her saddest disc to date. As the years have taken their toll, she continues to claim the throne once held by Billie Holiday in her last years. The mood of her scarred voice is truly heartbreaking and amplifies the impact of her performance to the extreme. The impact of her delivery certainly may make it difficult to enjoy or appreciate her art at this stage with such sad delivery and few singers would be able to pull it off. Her powerful and courageous expression makes the difficult listening worth it. LaVette’s comment: “I’m excited to announce my upcoming new album ‘Blackbirds’. It consists of songs that I heard while growing up, performed by women in jazz, blues, and R&B for whom I have great respect. Among them are Nina Simone, Della Reese, Ruth Brown, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Nancy Wilson. It will be released on May 8th.” Click here to listen to a very brief segment from the first song.
Various Artists – Funk Soul Sisters (Record Kicks): “We have dug into the vaults to bring you a collection of hot funk & soul tracks from our Soul Queens. The 12 tracks include obscure material and classics from James Brown original soul diva Martha High w/ Osaka Monaurail, Hannah Williams, Baby Charles, Tanika Charles, Marta Ren, Gizelle Smith with the Link Quartet and many more. With over 150 releases under the belt and under its motto “The explosive sound from Today’s scene”, independent label Record Kicks, together with similar outfits like Daptone Records, Freestyle, Colemine Records or Timmion, has been pitching the so-called Retro Soul movement and in general Soul music for nearly two decades”. (https://recordkicks.bandcamp.com/album/record-kicks-funk-soul-sisters) Soul fans, definitely check this out! Click here to listen to the songs on this discs.