Ask any blues guitarist to identify his or her favorite peers, and Jimmy Thackery's name will likely come up. The former Nighthawk is one of the most versatile and expressive electric axemen on the contemporary blues scene, and few players are more exciting in a live setting. Sinner Street
is the slickest, most conventional blues-rock album I've heard yet from Mr. Thackery. It can be debated whether Jim Gaines' rock-style production enhances or taints the music here, but one thing is clear: Thackery's guitar playing is so animated it lifts these songs to a higher place. Thackery's guitar work is as loud and fiery as any bluesman's, but there's a clean, architectural quality to his soloing that's more typical of a jazz guitarist. While Thackery's gritty singing voice isn't nearly as captivating as his guitar work, it gets the job done. His 11 original songs should please any fan of rock-oriented blues.
By itself, the Peter Gunn-like title track makes Sinner Street
a worthwhile buy. Marked by a jazzy performance from newest Driver Jimmy Carpenter on saxophone, this instrumental track is as menacing as a late-night prowler. Saxman Carpenter provides a honking counter to Thackery's edgy guitar throughout the CD, thus expanding the Drivers' sound. Hard-rocking anthems "Detroit Iron," "Never Enough," "Million Dollar Bill," and "Havin' A Heart" sound run of the mill until Thackery injects each with an enervating solo. "Bad News" and "Chained to the Blues Line" are toe-tapping shuffles also energized by Thackery's churning guitar. The mellow instrumental "Blues 'Fore Dawn" is a surprisingly lyrical cut on an otherwise muscular collection of blues-rock.
Sinner Street is the most commercial album Jimmy Thackery has ever recorded, but it's plenty soulful, and it lends credence to an observation made by more than one critic: If any living guitarist deserves to mentioned in the same breath with Stevie Ray Vaughan, it's Jimmy Thackery.
Personnel: Jimmy Thackery (guitar, vocals); Mark Stutso (drums, vocals); Ken Faltinson (electric bass, keys, backup vocals); Jimmy Carpenter (sax, backup vocals); Reba Russell (backup vocals)