Rusty Zinn is a talented 29-year-old blues guitarist from San Francisco with a retro sound that combines West Coast and Chicago blues styles. Zinn's music jumps as much as it rocks, and the guitarist also tries his hand at gospel and doo-wop on Confessin', his second release for Black Top.
Much like fellow Golden Stater Rick Holmstrom, Zinn favors the subdued amplification of a '50s-style guitar. And like Holmstrom, Zinn understands that raw blues is the best blues; his production (with Hammond Scott) never gets in the way of the music. Zinn is a savvy guitarist with a strong sense of swing, a loose, jazzy feel for his ax, and a concise way with a solo. He sings pretty well, too.
Two separate bands back Zinn on Confessin'. Both are good. Charlie Baty and Rick Estrin of Little Charlie and the Nightcats appear on six cuts. Pianist Bob Welch headlines a group of Bay area musicians on the remaining nine tracks. Organist Jimmy Pugh plays superbly on "Think" and "Confessin' About My Baby," while The Gospel All Stars (three former members of the Gospel Hummingbirds) sing on three tracks, including two tunes by the '50s doo-wop group the Five Royals.
My favorites here include the rollicking Zinn original "Mimi," which features some soulful sax work by John Firmin, the doo-wop tune "If You Ever Get Lonesome," and Zinn's soulful "Confessin' About My Baby." Zinn wrote five of the tracks on this CD, and they stand up very well next to the vintage stuff.
Fans of '50s R&B, jump blues, or superior blues guitar should dig Confessin'. I expect to partake of many more fine albums from the red-haired Mr. Zinn.