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Blues Deluxe

Autumn 2022

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Blues Deluxe is a regular column comprised of pithy takes on recent blues and roots-music releases of note, spotlighting titles in those genres that might otherwise go unnoticed under the cultural radar.

Grant Dermody
Behind The Sun
Self Produced
2022

This roughly fifty-minute excursion into the blues, Grant Dermody's fifth solo album, is an agile mix of this harmonica master's originals, collaborations with multi-instrumentalist/co-producer Dirk Powell and selections from icons of the genre. To the great credit of those principals and their able comrades with whom they recorded these fifteen tracks in Louisiana, McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters' "Trouble No More" and Otis Rush's "So Many Roads'' are of a piece with the portentous "Forgive Me" as well as the gruff intonations of "Footsteps In The Hall." An intuitive understanding to avoid overplaying within these straightforward arrangements is a mindset that fosters a fervent elegance in the playing and singing, even on the abbreviated instrumentals, "Lost John '' and "Mr. Jeff;" there as elsewhere on this LP, the music jumps as the frontman whets the appetite for more rather than overstaying his welcome on his main instrument.

Lauren Anderson
Burn It All Down
Self Produced
2022

Contrary to the anarchist implications of this album's title, Lauren Anderson's contemporary blues are nothing if not self-renewing. And no doubt that nurturing atmosphere has much to do with the frontwoman's generosity of spirit: she composed all but one of the originals here on her own, but credits the 'Lauren Anderson Band' as co-producer with Taylor Lonardo who, not coincidentally, engineered, mixed and mastered the album at his own studios. Guest guitarists Albert Castiglia ("Zombie Blues") and John Salaway ("Hit The Spot") fit right in to this shared creative atmosphere, as does saxman/flutist Joe Douglas on "Never Too Late." Meanwhile, the forty two minutes duration is plenty of time for Anderson to display her skills as guitarist and vocalist as well as composer; her highly-nuanced work on "Still Here" and "I Know" corresponds to the intricacy of the artwork on the digi-pak.

Sara Niemietz
Superman
Self Produced
2022

Sara Niemietz exudes indefatigable strength throughout her approximately fifty-four minute pop-soul collaboration with co-writer, co-producer and guitarist Linda Taylor. Not to disparage the shared creative skills of those two principals, but it all begins with the sound: the latter mixed the recordings engineered by Scott Campbell (at The Doors' guitarist Robbie Krieger's Horse Latitude Studios) and subsequently mastered by Dave Cooley. "Locks" and "I Want You'' manifest an earthy realism via the sonics, but that doesn't demean the musicianship: the core quintet is tight enough to allow more than just a smattering of spontaneity on "Tip Toe'' and "Come To Me," while their unity allows a tangible versatility to flourish on a cut like "Lovely Lies." An acoustic foundation supplemented with congas, that arrangement simultaneously stands apart from and of a piece with its surroundings, even the heavily atmospheric "Words," within which Niemietz's alternately sultry and gutsy singing nurtures the continuity.

Bywater Call
Remain
Gypsy Soul Records
2022

Bywater Call wields potent firepower here, so much so that the impact rivals that of the much larger Tedeschi Trucks Band. Working in the same rock/blues/soul arena as the latter, BC has a distinct advantage in the lead vocals of Meghan Parnell alone: after belting out "Falls Away," she croons her way through "Love Down Slow" with a saucy insouciance that's as credible as her high-powered singing. The band is tight all around, but guitarist Dave Barnes deserves special attention for his decorative flourishes of slide guitar as on the title song. Meanwhile, saxophonist Julian Nalli and trumpeter/trombonist Stephen Dyle combine forces to highlight how this LP's sparkling audio is one of its greatest virtues. Notwithstanding the decisive drama in "Ties That Bind," the fiery flow of this album might benefit from better pacing, but it is nonetheless the work of one versatile, imposing band.

Jimmy Carpenter
The Louisiana Record
Gulf Coast Records
2022

Jimmy Carpenter and company swagger right into action with "I Hear You Knocking" and the collective braggadocio doesn't subside appreciably over the course of this quarter hour or so. Notwithstanding a nagging air of overfamiliarity, co-producer/guitarist/label head Mike Zito is no doubt proud to release this LP on his own Gulf Coast Records: even if it does not appreciably stretch the boundaries of contemporary blues, tracks like that opener and its successor "I Got Loaded" teem with affection for the form, not to mention the joy of collaboration. With natural curiosity and purposeful discipline, Carpenter transcends his technical limitations, imbuing his singing and playing with gusto on "Something You Got" and "Barefootin,'" and, with this honest take on Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me,," rendering an affection for r&b that's as danceable as it is addictive.

Tracks and Personnel

Behind The Sun

Tracks: Trouble No More; Don't Boss Me; Forgive Me; Lost John; Clotilda's Got Soul; Louisiana Blues; Footsteps In The Hall; Tell Me; Mourning Dove; She Come Running; Honest I Do; Time Ain't Due; Mr. Jeff; Learn To Treat Me Right; So Many Roads.

Personnel: Grant Dermody: harmonica, lead vocals; Dirk Powell: guitar, piano, vocals, bass, drums; Corey Ledet: accordion; Lee Allen Zeno: bass; Gerard St. Julien: drums; Teka Briscoe: vocals; Ahyris Navarre: vocals.

Burn It All Down

Tracks: Burn It All Down; Soul Is Mine; Zombie Blues; Lose My Head; Tell Me Baby; I Know; Never Too Late; Hit The Spot; Still Here; Fool; Rain Down On Me; Like A Woman.

Personnel: Lauren Anderson: vocals, guitar; Dan Wechet: guitar; Albert Castiglia: guitar; John Salaway: guitar; Johnathan Smith: keys, organ; Joe Douglas: saxophone, flute; Hutch: bass; Matt Doctor: drums.

Superman

Tracks: Locks; I Want You; Tip Toe; Lovely Lies; Fill Me Up; Four Walls; Come to Me; Names; Keep an Eye; GOODx3; Superman; Every Light; Words; The Dimming.

Personnel: Sara Niemietz: vocals; Linda Taylor: guitars; Ed Roth: keyboards; Daniel Pearson: bass; Leo Costa: drums.

Remain

Tracks: Falls Away; Lover Down Slow; Remain; Let Me Be Wrong; Left Behind; Sea We Swim; Ties that Bind; Fortune; go Alone; Locked; Bring It Back.

Personnel: Meghan Parnell: vocals; Dave Barnes: guitars; Alan Zemaitis: keyboards; Julian Nalli: saxophones; Stephen Dyle: trumpet, valve trombone; Mike Meusel: bass; Bruce McCarthy: drums.

The Louisiana Record

Tracks: I Hear You Knockin'; I Got Loaded; Something You got; Barefootin'; All These Things; Travelin' Mood; Cry To Me; Those Lonely Lonely Nights; Pouring Water On A Drowning Man; Bring It On Home to Me; Rockin' At Cosimos.

Personnel: Jimmy Carpenter: vocals, saxophone; Mike Zito: guitar; John Gros; piano, organ; Casaundra Faulconer: bass; Wayne Maureau: drums

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