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Mr. Sipp: Knock A Hole In It

James Nadal By

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Castro Coleman has an extensive and impressive resume as a guitarist and producer in the gospel genre, having appeared, in a variety of guises, on over fifty records. In 2013, he reinvented himself as Mr. Sipp, diving headfirst into the blues scene, producing It's My Guitar, the following year, as a result of his own efforts. He was already associated with Malaco Records through his gospel work, and in 2015, released Mississippi Blues Child, for that label, to wide acclaim, and he returns with a vengeance on Knock A Hole In It. This is a solid set of high powered electric blues that not only exhibits his guitar prowess and songwriting skills, but the range of his vocal capabilities as well.

The records title, as well as the opening track, are a reference to the shout Coleman gives as he takes off on a guitar solo. He plays all the guitars, and at times there is a lot going on, but there is no doubting he plays a mean blues guitar. "Bad Feeling," is a fast lane burner, where the organ fills of Carrol McLaughlin, and driving bass of Jeffrey Flanagan, allow Coleman plenty of room for soloing, as he does throughout the record. There is a novelty approach on "Stalking Me," as the song describes the unwanted persistent approach of female fans, but done with lighthearted humor.

The pace comes way down on "Sea Of Love," a ballad where Coleman benefits from all those years listening to hymns, and the emotions that the gospel singers invoke. "Gotta Let Her Go," is a tough barroom blues, and "Going Down," crosses over the hard rock line, as the effect driven guitars take center stage. But Coleman can also play as clean and soft as the song necessitates, "Baby Your Mine," presented as a wholehearted love song, the guitar curtailed to simple stinging accents.

Profound Mississippi roots come to light on the shuffling "Juke Joint," a good time number where Coleman's knowledge of accurate southern blues is evident. Deeper into the slow grinding blues he goes on "Strings Attached," this time his sincere vocals revealing a man pleading for love amidst personal confusion and doubt. He keeps this heartbroken persona going on "Love Don't Live Here Anymore," reaching into the innate soul singer that is inside him.

The dance oriented, contemporary rhythm and blues beat of "Turn Up," and "Love Yourself," indicate that Coleman is adept in the groove style of playing which is distinctive of the Malaco Records catalog of blues/soul artists. This style entails the dynamic horn section featured here, and is a throwback to the golden age of soul revues, where the band, as well as the singer, had to deliver the goods for a tough demanding audience.

That Coleman is influenced by Jimi Hendrix, is evident from his ferocity on the guitar, and the way he sets up his solos. It is high volume blues taken over the edge, yet controlled and tempered to fit the mood of the song, while never playing the same lick twice. It is then appropriate that he goes out with a tribute to Hendrix, covering the immortal "Little Wing." He stays true to the original, and steps up to the task on the solo, though the ending is blurred by going into the Star Spangled Banner, which which should have been reconsidered.

Castro Coleman as Mr.Sipp proves that he is the real deal when it comes to interpreting modern blues and soul, both as a vocalist, and guitarist, having an inherent sensitivity for the music. Aside from his recordings, his available videos display versatility as a performer in an intimate acoustic setting, as well as with a small blues ensemble, so he can do it all. His prodigious ability to navigate all the intricacies of the blues, in all its forms and styles, sets him apart, and there will certainly be more to come from Mr. Sipp.

Track Listing: Knock A Hole In It; Bad Feeling; Stalking Me; Sea Of Love; Gotta Let Her Go; Going Down; Baby Your Mine; Juke Joint; Strings Attached; Turn Up; Love Don’t Live Here Anymore; Love Yourself; Little Wing.

Personnel: Castro Coleman/Mr. Sipp: lead vocals, guitars, bass, strings, horn arrangements, percussion; Jeffrey Flanagan: bass, backing vocals; Carrol McLaughlin: piano, organ; Kimble Funches: trumpet; Jessie Primer III: tenor sax; Robert Lamkin: trombone; Stanley Dixon: drums; Murph Caicedo: drums.

Title: Knock A Hole In It | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Malaco Records

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