01
Dec
16

TRIBE ROYAL-COLOURS OF THE SUN-“RADIANT GUITAR POP SUBSTANCE” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Somewhere between the rock and pop of  Big Star, early Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and REM lies Canada’s Tribe Royal

The band’s new album Colours of the Sun interweaves magical guitar pop with ambitious songs.

Catching Up opens up the cd with an almost Sloan/REM vibe, Wasting Time jangles in a mid 60’s Byrds/Skydiggers mode and the guitar hook and harmonies of My Kind of Girl takes it’s cue from a Brit Pop 1965 vibe.

If that was not enough College Radio should be all over songs such as I’m Not Gonna Wait, the almost Greg Keelor/Outskirts haunting moan of Loraine and the gorgeous ballad Don’t You Change which ends with a killer guitar solo.

Impressive?

You bet.

North American Radio and fans should welcome this band with open arms!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post Media contributor, and singer-songwriter with Canadian rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

 

20
Nov
16

THE ARGUES-SOMETHING NEW-‘SUPERIOR POP/ROOTS JANGLE” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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The Argues debut album Something New is pure roots/pop that simply sparkles.

The sonic sweep of the harmonies on the title track along with the chunky rock n’ roll of Get It Done just knocks you over.

16 year old main lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sabrina Argue is always confident but then again the sweet vocal by her sister Lauren on Living Our Lives is gorgeous roots at it’s best.

Mother and Father Michael and Chantale guitar and drums also co-write a number of the songs on this six song EP.

The first single Run Till I Drop is original and exciting pop.

Exhilarating debut and as the song says The Best Is Yet To Be

Wow!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor and songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-baby-says-single/id646408621

JOHN is on Twitter

 

20
Nov
16

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES-SEEING IS BELIEVING-“FIERCE BLUES POWER”CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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When guitarist Monster Mike Welsh stabs out his guitar solo on the title track of this new album you quickly realize this is the real thing.

That is not new info for this veteran band.

Along with the opening Sweet Baby and the rollicking Sugar Ray harp punch of Blind Date it is however confirmation.

Check out the rolling piano 88’s on Noontime Bell with Anthony Geraci or the killer 50’s echo vocal by Norcia on Got a Gal or even the powerful Two Hundred Dollars Too Long

This stuff smokes.

The band rarely ventures out of the songwriting pocket to blues rock or jazz and if that’s ok with you, this is your ticket to the real thing!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post/Sun Media contributor and heads up his own blues rocking band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

07
Nov
16

MONKEYJUNK-TIME TO ROLL-“ACCESSIBLE, IN THE MOMENT SONGS’ CD REVIEW-BY JOHN EMMS

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MonkeyJunk’s latest album Time To Roll showcases tight and accessible songs that sound immediate and in the moment

The band has refined it’s approach to writing and playing and this album sparkles with that groove.

It reminds me some of The Fabulous Thunderbirds work that stayed true to their roots but also grew them a much bigger audience.

For example Time to Roll, See The Sign and a great cover of The Hunter are killer mainstream blues rock performances that really work.

Recorded at Signal Path Studios with Ken Friesen the big acoustic strum. catchy electric riff, and superb vocals on Pray for Rain written with Paul Reddick just can’t miss.

That goes ditto for the smooth Kim Wilson-esque R & B of Can’t Call You Baby  and the mad shuffle on the song Gone.

Honestly, this album is the most focused I have heard the Canuck trio.

The  essential move by simply adding bass guitar to the mix also works wonders.

It is indeed Time To Roll

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist of 30 plus years, a blues/roots songwriter and heads up his own blues rock band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

 

 

24
Oct
16

OURS AND MY NORTH, SECRET PATH, GORD DOWNIE-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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It’s not the “norm” to not talk about the music right away in a review when I write.

But first some context.

Growing up in the mid sixties in Northern Ontario and going to school in South Porcupine (5,000  people) 5 miles from Timmins everything seemed the way it should be.

It was for us a Mining culture. Your Dad was a lifer, and many of us worked the summers at the mine.

In public school and at high school even though I knew many First Nations acquaintances, in class, out of class, everything seemed cool hanging out on the surface.

That may be hard for some to understand in 2016 but I’m being honest here.

Yet, none of my friends and I  knew nothing of  the misuse of Governments, and Churches further up the treeline.

We did not know of how their culture and families were being broken up.

Maybe the conversation was not that deep at 17 or 18 years of age in 1970?

Nobody told us.

It was never talked about if we were standing watching a hockey game, or later on having a beer downtown.

Yet fast forward to 2016 my wife and I sat stunned last night as CBC broadcast Secret Path.

It was mind blowing, gut wrenching, we could hardly speak

I had been playing the audio tracks for a few days, but with the documentary and animation it had a generational impact on us both.

I’m 64 years of age folks and if takes Gord Downie to show me things up North where I live have never been harder, so be it.

Let’s be honest our mutual friend Charlie Angus has been the leader and educator on these tragedies while taking a proactive approach.

Both Gord and Charlie know this is a crisis. A Canada wide crisis.

Musically, most songwriters don’t go this deep.

Even Gord’s work with the Hip which has been groundbreaking at times in the group’s career has never cut this close to the bone.

The concept of the album and the true story of Chanie Wenjack a 12 year old indigenous boy who ran away from a Kenora school 50 years ago is powerful.

Chanie later died on a railway track from exposure.

That is something that this country should know about for all kinds of reasons let alone the seven generations who were affected.

The sheer isolation you will feel on the songs like The Stranger, Seven Matches, and the title track I cannot describe musically despite the mostly acoustic instrumentation and Downie’s voice.

This has to be felt.

I find it amazing this album sat on the shelf since 2013.

I also have to say the organic approach that musicians/producers Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin as well as graphic novelist Jeff Lemire give is essential to this recording.

On the songs I Haunt Them, Haunt them, Haunt them, and the closer Here, Here, Here where Downie sings about the despair of dying alone with visions of ravens and the wind in the trees I felt shame.

On the big screen as my wife and I sat comfortable in our living room watching the broadcast the hurt was very real.

Maybe this fifth solo album will be Gord Downie’s  last album.

I hope not.

I honestly think it’s his most important work and as he has mentioned the most good for his heart.

Growing up all these years in the North it never occurred to me in 2016 I would learn such a lesson that presents itself with this project.

JOHN EMMS is veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter and contributor to Sun Media and Post Media

John also fronts his own band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter

 

 

20
Oct
16

JW-JONES HIGH TEMPERATURE-“JONES BRINGS THE HEAT” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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It’s very clear the new JW-Jones album High Temperature continues to build upon the solid foundation of his last album Belmont Boulevard.

However, on High Temperature producer Colin Linden makes an immediate impact by condensing Jones natural blues talent into a more traditional roots southern style.

You can hear this all over the album starting with the first two tracks. Price You Pay and How Many Hearts a superb rave-up duo with country singer-songwriter Jaida Dreyer.

Jones’ B.B. King-esque lead guitar solos and fills are still played with the same passion even as he dips into the amplified Chicago vibe of the Little Walter title track.

Working with his very capable touring band of Laura Greenberg and Mathieu Lapensee this album is integrated with the big addition of Kevin McKendree’s keyboard playing on almost every track.

The layering of organ to tracks like Who I Am, Away Too Long and the fantastic R & B Memphis vibe of Same Mistakes brings in a very Reese Wynans vibe.

The teaming up of Jones with songwriter Dick Cooper (The Cooper Brothers) produces sparks on the excellent Leave Me Out and Already Know which reminds of me mid seventies Elvin Bishop.

The covers of Moby Grape’s Murder In My Heart for The Judge and Charlie Rich’s Midnight Blues are excellent Americana choices although as noted they expand out of  Jones live trio format.

Mixing Americana with blues is not new, but it feels simply righteous on this album.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter and Sun and Post Media contributor.

JOHN leads his own blues rocking band THE SHAFTMEN  who are now working on their fourth release.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

13
Oct
16

THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS-STRONG LIKE THAT-70’s SOULFUL-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Soulful , grooved out, and steeped in dynamics Strong Like That The Fabulous Thunderbirds new album gets better with repeated listens.

I can’t say why but if this album was made in the mid 70’s it would not seem out of place.

That’s a good thing friends.

Al Jackson’s Drowning on Dry Land, Kim Wilson’s own Smooth which sounds like killer radio fare, the swampy cover of R & B singer Paul Kelly’s You’re Gonna Miss Me and the excellent title track are flat out superb.

Kim Wilson’s lead vocals and harp work are steeped in confidence and soul, and keyboard man Kevin Anker’s feel on every track adds a glue that is essential to the sound of the band.

Other highlights include the smoky groove of Where’s Your Love Been, The Cate Brothers vibe of Don’t Burn Me and the killer funky groove cover of (I Know) I’m Losing You.

Despite their past superb cred Strong Like That is ample proof this band is as vital as it’s ever been.

Wow!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media/Post Media contributor and singer songwriter with Canadian Blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter

25
Sep
16

THOMAS WADE-BLUE COUNTRY SOUL-“SMOOTH TOUCH OF CLASS” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Class is not a word you hear often when speaking of an artist’s music but Thomas Wade’s new album Blue Country Soul is classy, smooth and intoxicating.

I will say I was not a huge fan of his previous band Wayward.

Although the hits were numerous in a short span (1996 to 1999) the songs here have much more soul, heart and integrity.

From the gentle opening Funny What Makes You Cry, the Bakersfield vibe of Lock the Door, and the superb and righteous 60’s soul/pop of That’s What Love looks Like, Wade and his excellent band of Steve O’Connor, John Dymond and Gary Craig rule with dynamics and feel.

Wade and the band rock it up on A Lot to Unlearn and deliver big in a jazzy/blues take (check out Wade’s guitar solo) on the classic country gem Am I That Easy To Forget.

As a bonus this album is superbly engineered in an almost vinyl type of way.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun/Post media Contributor and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

 

 

06
Sep
16

DUKE ROBILLARD- BLUES FULL CIRCLE-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS-‘”WORTH WAITIN’ ON”

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The other day barbecuing a few steaks with friends I blasted out Lay a Little Lovin On Me with it’s dirty down guitar fills and solo.

A few guys asked (early 50″s) Who Is this?

I replied Duke Robillard and his band.

Nope.

Have you heard of the Fabulous Thunderbirds?

Yes of course.

He replaced Jimmie Vaughan way back when.

No way was the answer. Yes way.

I was not going to go into the whole Duke or Roomful of Blues history or my wife would kill me sitting about 5 feet away.

Suffice to say as Mourning Dove drifted across our patio with Duke ripping another cool solo, it was decided, let’s leave this on.

Mission accomplished.

Of course Duke and his All-Star band sure as heck don’t need my help.

Pretty soon I was boppin to Last Night with Sugar Ray Norcia and Sax Gordon Beadle sitting in and later ditto with the track The Mood Room with a rollicking piano/vocal from Kelly Hunt.

Everyone was smiling.

A bit later, holy crap it’s Jimmie Vaughan himself trading licks with Duke and there is a honkin’ Baritone sax on Shufflin’ and Scufflin’

Folks, Mr Robillard is back from surgery and rehabilitation.

I’m sure Duke and the band are happy.

We are.

You can pick up Duke’s new CD just about anywhere on the planet.

Worth waitin’ on I would say.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor..and YES

John is the songwriter/guitarist who shuffles and scuffles with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

05
Sep
16

RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS-MAXWELL STREET-“GOSPEL IN THOSE FINGERS”

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If the term gospel could be applied to music coming through the fingers of a guitarist then those hands would belong to Ronnie Earl.

That gorgeous tone opens up his latest album Maxwell Street with the heavenly ambience of Mother Angel a major seventh chord pattern that allows Earl and organ player Dave Limina plenty of room to breathe.

Essentially this album leaves space.

Most of the songs are overall slower in tempo than some tracks such as Spann’s Groove or the rockin Blues for the South  Side from previous albums.

Having said that it allows the  band and the listener to be one with the players.

Check out the great feel on the track Elegy for a Bluesman written by Limina.

The song written for the late David Maxwell the former Broadcaster and inspiration for the cd title is bathed in the blue light of Bluesmen past.

Wow.

Although no one could top the Gladys Knight version of her hit I’ve Got to Use My Imagination or the Manfred Mann/Ray Charles version of You Don’t Know Me written by Eddy Arnold vocalist Diane Blue the band’s newest member is a great singer.

Having said that, at times but not always Earl’s fills are a bit busy when she is doing her lead vocal.

The best moments are of course the exceptional Blues for David Maxwell where Limina displays incredible feel on his piano solo and Earl uses his bends and jazzy figures with a Wes Montgomery vibe.

It’s crazy good folks.

I have to say my spotlight has been with Earl and the band’s original material and there are six of them here.

Either way Earl and his band play with deep sensitivity at every turn.

NOTE.. This excellent album is due out September 9

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/guitarist with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John ON TWITTER

28
Aug
16

HONEYMOON SUITE, HELIX ROCK TIMMINS KAYAK FEST-AUGUST 27 2016 REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Love Changes Everything to quote a Honeymoon Suite song is exactly the way a massive Timmins crowd responded when the band not only pulled out all of their hits but did so with a killer show at The Great Canadian Kayak Festival Saturday night.
This has been a banner year for Timmins music fans and it only got better when Canuck metal bangers Helix smacked the crowd upside the head for 60 minutes with opening sets from local rockers Drivyn and Timmins born A.K. McLeod now out of Hamilton played his hometown for the first time.
HMS had the entire crowd singing Wave Babies, Stay In The Light, Feel It Again and New Girl Now while lead vocalist Johnnie Dee sounding the best I have heard him through the years connected with a rain soaked crowd.
It was as if the crowd was transported back to 1985.
The entire band with killer solos all night from guitarist Derry Grehan, and solid backing from keyboard man Peter Nunn, bassist Gary Lalonde and massive stick work from drummer Dave Betts rocked a very large audience.
A.K. McLeod delivered a very solid blues rock set and local hard rockers Drivyn totally impressed the crowd with originals and covers of Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix.
After the Fireworks Helix hit the stage at 10 p.m.
The Canuck metal rockers played their hits Wild In the Streets, The Kids Are All Shakin, Rock You and others like the killer Deep Cuts The Knife while lead vocalist Brian Vollmer charmed the crowd with in between song banter.
In a big surprise was the band’s newer songs like Gene Simmons Says Rock Is Dead and Even Jesus Wasn’t Loved in His Hometown drew heavy applause.
Timmins Kayak Fest has continued to evolve with a great roster of artist music bookings and literally thousands of people have responded in a big way.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media/Post Media contributor and songwriter/guitarist with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN ON TWITTER

 

26
Aug
16

ROSS NEILSEN-ELEMENTAL-CD REVIEW -BLUE ROUTE VIA ROOTS ROAD-BY JOHN EMMS

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For all the right reasons the best songs on Ross Neilsen’s cd Elemental are songs such as the rootsy Nobody Get’s Lonely, the gorgeous City of Regret co-written with Paul Reddick and the Blue Rodeo vibe of

Step Into the Light.

Though Neilsen is blues infused his roots road serves up the goods time in and time out on Elemental.

Producer Steve Marriner has a ton of experience and puts it to excellent use to pull out the emotion of Neilsen’s voice on tracks like the MonkeyJunk-esque Woman’s Name the jazzy textures of The Arrow and

the funky take on Willie P. Bennett’s Ballad In Low E

Not enough can be said about the great Jimmy Bowskill. His guitar solos, pedal steel work or any for that matter any stringed instrument are simply jaw dropping.

Sometimes music is made for the right reasons and Ross Neilsens’s Elemental is secure in that category.

JOHN EMMS is veteran music journalist, musician, songwriter and Sun Media/Post Media contributor.

JOHN can be heard with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John On Twitter

 

06
Jul
16

KENNY BLUES BOSS WAYNE-JUMPIN’ & BOPPIN-CD REVIEW “JOYFUL SOUND”-BY JOHN EMMS

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Kenny Blues Boss Wayne creates a joyous ‘groovy’ album with Jumpin’ and Boppin’ his latest cd.

And there is never anything wrong with slippin’ this cd on at a barbecue or riding down the highway.

It rocks on Bankrupted Blues, it grooves on the fantastic Blues Stew and it gets Jimmy Reed-esque on Blackmail Blues.

Duke Robillard stabs in lead guitar all over the album and with KBBW’s supple piano chops you’re in bop land with the great horn section.

One of the best performances comes late in the album with the exceptional Back To Square One. This song has a 60’s Ray Charles feel.

KBBW also does a great cover of You Don’t Know Me which Charles brought into the top of billboard top 5 in 1962.

As Kenny says “If you don’t know how to rock you sure can roll”

Amen to that

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post Media contributor, and singer-songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

check out their latest summer drive blues song Burning Rubber & Gasoline

 

05
Jul
16

LEE AARON-CONCERT REVIEW/TIMMINS JUNE 26TH/HERITAGE ARTISTS-by John Emms

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Two things you should know about Lee Aaron before heading out to see her concert tour or any other acts this summer.

She and her band are in vintage form and her new album Fire and Gasoline  is an intelligent highly listenable rock album.

At a recent tour stop in Timmins, Aaron and her great band “killed it”

Aaron’s set was a muscular one behind the excellent section of drummer John Cody, bassist Dave Reimer and the keyboards/guitar from Kevin Saulnier.

On the front end the expansive technique and superb chops of lead guitarist Sean Kelly provided plenty of firepower.

Aaron’s formidable front lady/voice and sometimes metal queen persona were never in doubt from the opening salvo of Tomboy from her latest album.

In fact if had 10 dollars from every person who approached me after the show or in the following days with the line “Wow, John, Lee Aaron’s voice sounded fantastic” I would have my summer vintage wine selection ready for consumption.

Whether it was songs such as Whatcha Do to My Body, Some Girls Do or Metal Queen (which I banged my head to) or the new and very catchy Fire and Gasoline title track and Bad Boyfriend the band hit a groove that was organic as hell.

However, the one thing that elevates Aaron is her connection to the fans.

It is without a doubt, a total joy to witness.

It is a lock folks!

Stay tune with me later this year when I get my iTunes music podcast back on track with a format that will include Roots/Rock/and Blues.

When Artists such Lee Aaron and others create new and exciting work I will let you know.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post media contributor, former radio host and singer-songwriter with Canadian Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

to read john’s interview with Lee

http://www.timminspress.com/2016/06/22/lee-aaron-playing-parkfest-on-tour-of-diverse-new-cd

JOHN is on TWITTTER

03
Jun
16

MARK MAY BAND-BLUES HEAVEN-“CONSISTENT HIGH QUALITY SONGS AND CHOPS”-BY JOHN EMMS

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It may seem strange this long into a career but Blues Heaven is Mark May’s most consistent song cycle and radio ready album.

The title track is easily the most soulful song any Bluesman has written in the last few years with killer solos by May and sax man Eric Demmer

May is a chameleon of many blues styles.

There is the Jimmy Vaughan influence of She’s a Keeper, the Warren Haynes vibe of Almost Like A Suicide and the Butterfield Blues Band roll of Put Down That Poison.

Other standouts are the R & B groove of Garden of Truth and the superb Bernard Allison vibe on Money (not the Pink Floyd track)

Excellent work, great band.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and singer-Songwriter with Canadian Blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

03
Jun
16

DAVE INSLEY-JUST THE WAY THAT I AM-“BOOTS ON COUNTRY”-BY JOHN EMMS

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Dave Insley’s new cd Just The Way I Am is boots on country, authentic and real.

Opening with the excellent Drinkin’ Wine and Staring at the Phone is classic 60’s Bakersfield via Austin Texas, while the minor chord I Don’t Know How this Story Ends has a Merle Haggard vibe.

This is total mid 60’s throwback Honky Tonk as evidenced on No One To Come To or Win Win Situation for Losers, yet there is a tenderness to the superb title track .

The musicians on the album are totally key to the album’s charm in particular Rick Shea’s guitar work and the excellent piano chops of Matt Hubbard.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is also on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

30
May
16

THE HIP-MAN MACHINE POEM-“THE TRUTH AND THE FAITH IN THE POWER OF SONG” BY JOHN EMMS

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Due out June 17th the Tragically Hip’s new album Man Machine Poem is a testament that the band’s connection and emotional resonance with fans has evolved together.

Off the top I can tell you that after five complete listens it becomes clear there are at least 4 or 5  songs on Man Machine Poem that will kill at radio, yet as a whole the album forges new sonic textures.

How is this possible?

The Hip simply remain true to what they do best.

And that is write memorable songs about life’s everyday experiences.

Like Blue Rodeo, Stompin Tom Connors, Tom Cochrane and even the game of hockey The Hip have faith that what they do matters to Canadians.

Opening the cd with the haunting song Man, the band goes dark pinned by a powerful vocal by singer Gord Downie.

It’s a gutsy type of psychedelia that gives way to a soon to be Hip classic on the next song In a World Possessed By The Human Mind.

Pulsating to the backbeat of Johnny Fay it shivers, and shakes your speakers with a 90’s Day for Night rumble.

What Blue is easily one of the band’s most vulnerable, loving, yet absorbed songs in the context of love.

If you could say this new song defines Gord Downie in the present so be it.

Yet again a laid back groove builds intense on the track Great Soul where Rob Baker and Paul Langlois’ guitars surround and weave hypnotic as Downie lays it bare.

Elsewhere the acoustic Tired As Fuck has a mid 90’s Trouble at the Henhouse feel.

The song suits perfectly to me at least the 2016 approach to the highs and lows and often mundane of what keeps us up at night.

Both Hot Mic and Here in the Dark could be live faves.

In fact, the whole band drives on both songs.

The tracks crackle with the inventive bass work of Gord Sinclair, and again the guitar weld of Langlois and Baker.

Drummer Johnny Fay pushes Downie to his front man best.

The pretty In Sarnia and Ocean Next are atmospheric and revealing, the latter in an almost Led Zeppelin acoustic mold.

Producers Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin have somehow transformed New Hip vibes while never leaving the past too far in the rear view mirror.

Man Machine Poem proves beyond a doubt that as players and friends The Hip as a unit are one of the most exciting acts on any stage on any given night.

Even with such a storied catologue taking chances as they do on this album has never sounded so righteous.

NOTE. Album is due out June 17th

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post Media contributor and singer songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

30
May
16

DAVID VEST-DEVASTATIN’ RHYTHM-THE REAL THING AGAIN-BY JOHN EMMS

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David Vest’s new album Devestatin’ Rhythm proves that despite technological advances you can’t beat a great blues combo that play with real feel.

Check out the new tracks Stop This Madness, or Staring Down the Barrel of The Blues. Great lyrics, solos that count and that storytelling vocal work by Vest.

Vest’s Mojo  is working’ folks.

If that was not enough the funky slinky The Blues Lives On with it’s name checking of artists is sublime and so is the solo piece Red Dirt Remedy.

Can’t say enough good things about the stellar guitar work of Teddy Leonard and band mates Gary Kendall and Mike Fitzpatrick

Talk about in the pocket!

Meanwhile tracks such as Kingsnake, West Coast Saturday Night and Biscuit Rollin Baby will get you out of your chair..

If you were born too late to experience rock n’ roll and blues in it’s purest form this is a good place to start.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor and singer-songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

30
May
16

STONY PLAIN 40 YEARS-THIS IS WHAT MAKING RECORDS IS ALL ABOUT-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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Chances are if an artist has songs that contain passion and integrity then Stony Plain or Holger Peterson on his Saturday Night Blues radio show have brought them to an International audience.

Stony Plain is a record company, Holger is a record man, these are records.

And may I say amen to that!

You have to know the difference between records and albums and cd’s and mass music.

When you dig that then you know why Peterson and Stony Plain stands for something

The great thing about Stony Plain’s 40th is that among the 57-track, three-CD album, you find gems of  music from singer/songwriters,  blues, R&B, gospel, swing, jazz genres and much more.

I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it was to find Bob Carpenter who I had never heard.

2 tracks Mister Blue and Satan’s Golden Chain have a tremendous impact on your gut emotion.

Ditto goes for the track Shingle by Shingle by Eric Bibb and also new tracks Mourning Dove by Paul Reddick, No More Cheap Wine by the great Colin Linden or Kenny Blues Boss Wayne’s new track Bankrupted Blues.

This is quality new music.

Maybe you want to hear James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and the great David Wilcox recreate That’s Allright Mama or It Takes Time by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.

One thing is certain you may want to pick up your guitar and woodshed a wee bit more after you hear the above mentioned.

This whole project is quality, care and passion.

JOHN EMMS is long time veteran music journalist, long time music lover and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

The band have released 3 albums and working  on their fourth..Check them out here

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

19
May
16

4 TIME JUNO WINNER PREVAIL TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW PROJECT THE ALPHA OMEGA

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Since the late 90’s PREVAIL has been all over the world gigging. He recorded over 10 cd’s with Swollen Members many of them going Gold and Platinum. His new work is with this nephew in the group The Alpha Omega. We conducted an intelligent and insightful interview and I was excited to hear how urgent their new work is.
“Even though my nephew is in this project Alpha Omega and he is as you mentioned family we could not expect everything to correlate on stage or in the studio. Having said that I was overwhelmed by the progress we made from the beginning” explains Prevail calling in from Calgary about the group’s new EP The Strain.
“I even explained I could show him some short cuts and different styles but he wanted to develop his own style of writing and wordplay and he has turned into an amazing emcee in a short amount of time, adds the multi-Juno Award winner and gold and platinum selling artist and co-founder of Swollen Members.
Neph (Corey Joseph) is the elite of Vancouver’s next generation of hungry emcee’s, who has also been privy to the behind-the-scenes workings of the industry throughout his new career.
Together, Prevail and Neph form Alpha Omega.
To be sure, the new cd The Strain shows the duo in excellent form dropping big time hooks and excellent wordplay
Timmins fans will get to check out the show May 24th at the Working Class.
” I think on the new album as you mentioned and also the former cd The Concept some might say it is a not as dark and heavy as some of The Swollen stuff.
Initially we wanted to get out of the gate and have fun but on The Strain tracks like Ouroboros S.I.N.S. and Abyss we do have a heavy vocal tonality and the topics have some more meat lyrically.
I have to say this group has been a dream come true and I want to bring this project to as many people as possible”
Long known as one of one of Canada’s superb free stylers Prevail has not altered his lyric attack.
“Well, I like it when people don’t get the lyrics on the first listen says Prevail. I stick my lyrics in a compartment a lot like the bands I grew up listening to such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and more. It’s later you might hear a line in the song and say ahh that’s what they are talking about.
Prevail is also old school in the way he starts to form his songs.
“Yes, I go with a pen and paper. Heck, I wear glasses and if I had to look at the keyboard every time I wanted to rhyme it would not work Prevail says with a laugh.
Having said that Neph or I may come in with some stuff but it’s really the passing off of improvised lyrics that is a great way to explore each others writing process”
With the enormous success of Swollen Members who released nine studio albums, one greatest hits album and 2 compilations Prevail considers this part of his career as important in every context.
” I think some artists may think you have to chase the last great single or album they made. It’s a dangerous mindset and I learned early on that you could get into trying to duplicate those feats and that limits you in creating new magic.
Just recently we did an all ages show and a young man around 13 says wow I really love Alpha Omega with Neph and I asked him how he heard abut us and he said his dad was really into Swollen Members but I love this thing. I think it’s great a new generation can take ownership of something now and later when they do some digging it will lend some substance to what they were already gravitating towards” says Prevail
“I have had a number of musical comrades say the feel they are watching the Prevail from 15 years ago and now with Neph and all the new songs I feel re-invigorated. We live for the live show and it is gong to be exciting”
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter with Canadian blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN
 https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570
JOHN is also on TWITTER
19
May
16

MAY RUN/VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND PLAYLIST-FEATURES ALL CANADIAN/PLUS NORTHERN ARTISTS

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This year I thought we would go with an all Canadian list for our May Run PLAYLIST
As you know each year..we change the artist and song list..This year  North Bay, Timmins, Attawapisktat and more were included
For the most part, we tried to stay away from obvious hits.
You hear those all the time. I like to use the old school term even though all these tracks are downloadable, which makes it easy for me and you.
A drum roll please.
Midnight Shine -Northern Man-Attawapiskat and First Nations identity is a big part of this band’s sound. I just love the production values of the title track. You need this song and the whole album. A must have.
Alan Doyle- 1, 2, 3, 4-Doyle will be up in Kirkland Lake June 24th with the Arkells and both bands make this year’s list. High energy rocker from Doyle’s cd So Let’s Go.
Johnny Reid-When The Sun Goes Down-From his cd What Love is All About. Great roots based rocker, Johnny just has that killer voice. Heck there is even a snappy organ solo. Cool
Tom Cochrane-Sunday Afternoon Hang-“the drinks are cold and the days are hot” Are you kidding? Wow, this is a great summer or a May Run anthem from his latest cd Take It Home.
Colin James-Stay-Absolute fave. Heavy vocal from Colin. Great guitar tone, reminds of his version of a Rolling Stones feel. I pulled this from Take It From The Top, Best of Colin James
Lee Holmes-It’s No Secret-Iroquois Falls native and blues rocker who now does gigs in Italy a good part of the year. Solid album. Check it out.
Honeymoon Suite-What Does It Take-Since the band will be here in late August at the Kayak Fest we just had to include this classic ballad from their cd The Big Prize
SAB-Little Girl- From the cd Flyin High Livin Free-One of Sab’s catchiest songs. Nice baritone sax, cool vocals, guitar solo by Sab and the band sounds just right. Miss that guy big time!
Arkells-Come to Light-One of Canada’s most creative newer acts. From the cd High Noon.
Jake and the Fundamentals-Nothing But Fine-The boys from North Bay add to our list with this catchy blues rocker from their cd Blues & Rhythm.
The Shaftmen-Bright Lights Big City-The only cover we have done. Original by Jimmy Reed with this one. Jack De Keyzer produced and played on it and yes it rocks.
The Skydiggers-We Don’t Talk Much Anymore-When I feel a little low on relationships this is one of my fave drinking songs from the band. I pulled this from the 22 track cd The Truth About Us
Glorious Sons-Heavy-This is pure rock n roll new Canuck style. Catchy, riff hard and oh so good.
Coming to Timmins this summer. From the cd The Union.
Jeff Healey Band-Cruel Little Number-Back to the glory days from 1998. A more polished track, but either way one heck of a great artist and band.
Tragicailly Hip-Boots or Hearts-Classic Hip, but then it’s all classic. And it never falls apart even if Gordie says it does.
Powder Blues Band-What Have I Been Drinking-Classic Canuck blues from the great Vancouver band led by Tom Lavin. I love the live version from Montreux.
Blue Rodeo-Begging You To Let Me In-From one of my fave BR’ cd’s The Days In Between. Killer groove by drummer Glenn Milchem, Jim’s great vocal and a wacked out guitar solo. Never get tired of this track.
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with Canadian Blue Rockers-THE SHAFTMEN
John  is on TWITTER
27
Apr
16

PAUL REDDICK-RIDE THE ONE-“A VITAL RIDE DOWN THE BLUES HIGHWAY” CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

ride the onePaul-Reddick-promo-photo-549x367P REDDICK

Throwing off molten chunks of Sonny Boy Williamson type harp phrases while telling stories often pitted against a driving one chord modal is where you will often find Paul Reddick on his Stony Plain debut release.

As a debut blues album for a new label Ride The One is a vital ride down the blues highway taking more than a few detours.

The first 2 songs Shadows and Celebrate along with the aggressive loud groove of It Goes With You find Reddick scowling out his vocals like he was in the front seat with Howling Wolf driving up from the Delta.

It ain’t safe baby!

The hypnotic Mourning Dove, the R & B of Gotta Find A, the blues rock of Living In Another World, and the very accessible Watersmooth all will kill at radio.

And folks that is important when your “riding out the one” elsewhere on the cd.

This is a much different album than his previous cd Wishbone which was more atmospheric.

Even though the songs are written by Reddick and producer/guitarist Colin Cripps Steve Marriner from Monkeyjunk holds some sway at least in ambience on a few of the tracks

I watched MonkeyJunk in a live context last year with Reddick and some of that feel is evident on Ride The One.

Not many artists would take the chance in the blues landscape to be exciting, brave and refreshing all on one recording.

Unless your name is Paul Reddick.

Album release according to the bio is May 20 2016.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist of over 30 years, a Sun Media music columnist and blues rock singer-songwriter with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is also on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

23
Apr
16

DANNY MARKS-CITIES IN BLUE-AUTHENTICITY AND INSPIRATION-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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With Cities In Blue Danny Marks has created an album that is both authentic and inspired.

In fact, you just don’t hear albums that breathe like the way this baby does!

Even though the songs were used as the soundtrack to the television show, on the cd they come off as songs that hold together.

Houston to L.A. and the excellent Belt Line Blues are prime examples.

On the latter when the song’s dynamics come down and Marks sings in a hushed baritone voice “But I gotta go Mama and my father says hand me the keys” It is sublime.

This is the beginning of many genuine moments that continue to occur on this recording.

Check out the great horn arrangement or the backing vocals by Sherie Marshall on Memphis Got Soul let alone the great groove of Al Cross

It comes off as Mar-Keys approved folks.

Marks nails the vocal and feel on both Heading Down to New Orleans and Blues Came To Chicago the latter with very cool contributions from David Rotundo and Julian Fauth.

Marks and Chris Whitley channel “Ol Satchmo’ (Louis Armstrong) on the cover of Once I Was Crazy, while Lights Out shows off Marks superb Ventures style guitar tone.

Produced by album bassist Alec Fraser and Marks the tracks recorded at various studios sound very vinyl warmth in nature.

And that adds to it’s charm.

We are only barely 5 months into the year and already this album should be on every blues lovers top 10 list.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media columnist, passionate music fan, and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is also on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

 

 

22
Apr
16

TIMMINS HEART OF GOLD WEEKEND-PLUS NEW RENEWAL-LEE HANNIGAN, ATWY, SILVERSTEIN..MUCH MORE

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This weekend Heart of Gold Fest is on. Check out The Vic and The Working Class for your rock n’ roll needs.
In fact, all Timmins music festivals seem to be improving the city’s business and artistic side.
Why is this renewal happening?
Could be it be more local coverage, business partners, a good work ethic, better organizing skills, better networking or all of the above I can’t say.
But, I do have to say there seems to be more demand.
This may sound strange considering Timmins’ notorious wait and see attitude through previous years.
I attend shows whenever possible and I don’t see a downside.
Fact is, Timmins fans are scooping up tickets.
The  entire 3 day festival passes have sold out for the Heart of Gold Fest at the Victory Tavern and Working Class Pub
As I write this, individual day shows are still available.
This festival will feature bands from Montreal, Sudbury, Toronto, Timmins and Burlington’s Silverstein who have sold 1 million hard driving hardcore punk albums.
That is a lot of music.
Further to that, with the news that TEFC is just starting to add on more to it’s Rock On the River lineup is also good news.
Expansion is in everyone’s interest.
From my own end I have covered everything from Local Food Bank shows, Club shows, Arena gigs, Porquis Festival, Summer Concert Series, Kayak Festival, Kap Lumberjack Festival, Kirkland Lake Festivals, Iroquois Summerfest, Cochrane Summerfest and yes even played a ton of fundraisers and many gigs with our band The Shaftmen.
From older bands like Soul Doubt, Blind Dog Circus, Compass Rose, BB Wolfe etc  and now Laforge, Lee Hannigan, Head Down and All The Wasted Years it’s been with one purpose.
To showcase the music here in the city.
If indeed large touring acts and the ability to accommodate these artists is the new horizon, then bring it on!
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers The Shaftmen and a roots music podcast host.
check out THE SHAFTMEN here
JOHN IS ON TWITTER
15
Apr
16

JEFF PLANKENHORN-SOUL SLIDE-HIS BEST SO FAR-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Hands down this is Jeff Plankenhorn’s best work!

The key is the diversity of the material, the superb vocal work and a bit bigger soundscape.

From the opening spiritual rocking vibe of Lose My Mind, to the gorgeous Trouble Find Me to the strut of Like Flowers with Ruthie Foster, it’s magic time.

Elsewhere the funky Dirty Floor, the killer cover of You Got Me Hummin’ to the heart wrenching Vagabond Moonlight Plankenhorn rules.

Pick any song I have mentioned on this album or others like Headstrong, or Walking in the Sun.

Jeff’s lead vocals just soulfully put you and your heart in that spot.

Plankenhorn may do a lot of gigs, but this particular album is easily one of the best by anyone early this year.

WOW!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter and bandleader THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

15
Apr
16

STEVE HILL-SOL0 RECORDINGS VOL 3-NATURAL RIFFING

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Steve Hill’s latest solo recordings Vol 3 re-imagine what blues rock has been since 1967.

That’ s a good thing.

Yes, blues rock has not changed a lot since The Yardbirds, Cream, Johnny Winter and now Joe Bonamassa  made it very popular

Having said that Hill is exciting.

Original tracks like Dangerous, Smoking Hot Machine and the elegant acoustic Slowly Slipping Away feel very real.

Tracks like Rollin & Tumblin and Going Down That Road Feeling Bad have been done too many times by too many people.

Sure, Hill changes them up and they kick big time, but his original work is much better.

His own acoustic Emily is a total winner.

Happy to be riffing, and oh so natural.

That’s when Hill is best!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter, and bandleader with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

01
Mar
16

WHAT’S ON JOHN’S IPOD PLAYLIST- MARCH-2016-forget all the crap..and listen to real artists…review john emms

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I won’t be the first person to say let’s get rid of the crap that is on radio and push in some new blood.

I know CBC radio has been good to a ton of artists, (including our own band) so kudos there. But the more people I turn on to new artists or older ones like Big Star, they say ” I had no idea”

I will be getting my RADIO show podcast up and running by summer..in a whole new edition and style.

Here is what’s getting REPEAT play on my Ipod..this week. So check out the artists work.

Iggy Pop/Josh Homme-Gardenia-Ton of David Bowie influence but that’s very cool.

Cecile Doo-Kingue-Thankful-So much great stuff on this cd..This one is breezy, R & B chord changes and yes this is a great country..amen and shine your light.

Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins-Propellers-One of my fave songwriters on any level, This is from Garden Songs 2015. Puts me in a reflective mood every time.

Devin Cuddy Band-Just One Kiss-from Kitchen Knife-Very soulful blues inspired vocal work, with nice gtr fills. Watch out for Cuddy’s new material I heard in concert, it was KILLER

Johnny Rawls-Red Cadillac-from the cd Tiger in a Cage-Memphis soul, love those horns and the groove just won’t quit

Mavis Staples-Take Us Back-Mavis has never went away..and this album just kills-Album title is Livin’ On a High Note

Billy Gibbons & the BFG’S- BG  moves it on out to a 6 piece band/Afro Cuban vibe-Track is Got Love If You Want It.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, radio host and performer.

JOHN’S MUSIC https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

TWITTER https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

28
Feb
16

ALL ABOARD THE BLUES ROCK TRAIN- BOB MALONE, VAN WILKS, JORDAN PATTERSON, BILL DURST -review BY JOHN EMMS

BOB MALONEVan1JordanCDCover_W201_PrintFinal-front-cover-slip-only-500x500BILL DURST

First things first, none of these recordings are straight up blues albums.

And that is the key to their appeal.

Secondly, each one of these blues rock veterans are REAL players.

No pretend “shite”‘ here folks.

Bob Malone Mojo Deluxe-Best known for working with John Fogerty, Malone simply kicks butt on this album.

I thought I had reviewed this in 2015 but checked and no I was wrong. Strange because it’s on my fave list of albums when I’m out driving.

Funky Wurlitzer chops and Hammond B-3 organ at the highest level collide with killer vocals on Toxic Love, the gutsy I’m Not fine and things get heated up with clavinet funky goodness on Don’t Threaten Me (with a good time). Excellent guitar work from Bob Demarco.  .

Van Wilks-21st Century Blues-A monster rock recording, 21st Century Blues is the kind of rock that should be ALL OVER radio.

Hell, every track has a killer hook or riff.

Golddigger may have a slinky feel via SRV Texas, but it’s the songs like Strange Girl, the ultra hip title track, the straight up She Makes Me Crazy and  Livin’ On Borrowed Time a tour de force rocker that stick like glue.

Billy Gibbons co-writes Drive By Lover and Christopher Cross helps out vocally and on guitar, but this is ALL Van Wilks with a killer band.

Jordan Patterson-Back On Track Recording Project-Beautifully recorded and mixed this album just sounds great.

Songs like Can We Fall In Love Again, Do You Believe, and You’re My Girl simply are hook deep, ear pleasing tracks where the band and the players mesh into a natural vibe.

Elsewhere their is a funky Lenny Kravitz vibe to Living Without Your Love, Favourite Boy has a Charlie Musselwhite on steroids kick and Play My Song rips a snaky riff to the ceiling and back.

Not enough can be said how good the band vibe on this album is.

Crank this up and just watch people say “wow’

Bill Durst- Good Good Lovin-Fired up and riffing into Tres Hombres party mode Durst, bassist Joe DeAngelis and drummer Corey Thompson rip on their latest.

The title track checks Tobacco Road for inspiration, while Got Love smokes up a Bad Company vibe underpinned by a Thundermug shot of Canuck rock.

The track I Regret To Say is a stunner of atmospheric guitar love, while King Snake Roll snaps up Ol John Lee grinning in heaven.

Best of all, this album just sounds like fun and should get a ton of play.

Party on the patio or any concert hall this will move ya!!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, online radio host and performer.

Check out John’s music THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

28
Feb
16

Cecile Doo-Kingue-Anybody Listening-Part 2 Dialogues-The new face and sound of urban blues

Cecile Doo-Kingue promo photo 1 - Terry Hughes Images

Exciting, intelligent and bridging the blues songwriting gap the new sound of urban blues is Cecile Doo-Kingue.

Mixing emotion and sharp lyrical content Riot & Revolution’s shuffle blasts the album out of the gate.

Anybody Listening uses a slick soulful laid back strut, and killer guitar fills, while Animal Kingdom jumps and weaves a funky groove.

Elsewhere the track Faith (her best lyric on the album) shoots out blasts of distorted fuzzed up guitar, with a gorgeous bridge before she nails her killer solo.

Many sublime moments abound from a talent so big it can’t be ignored.

Get on board this train!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, online radio host and performer.

Check out John’ Music with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

15
Jan
16

SANDY CARROLL LAST SOUTHERN BELLE-SOULFUL SOUTH-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Not everyone understands the myths or reality of the South of the USA. That is fair and goes for any area on the planet.

You grow up in West Tennessee or the hard rock mining city of Timmins you write about where you live.

This is a beautifully played and sung album wherever you live.

The title track and Southland Rules shimmer with upbringing themes and supple vocal restraint by Carroll.

The best song on the album has to be Heading Out On Empty.

Great guitar solo by Will McFarlane, superb lyrics and of course Carroll wrings out every nuance vocally.

Not every song is as good as the above three, yet there has to be at least a few more (Southern Woman, Family Reunion Day) that would fit easily on any radio playlist

Production by Jim Gaines and guest musicians such as David Hood and Steve Potts go a long way.

DUE OUT FEB 19

JOHN EMMS is a 30 year veteran music journalist, songwriter, musician, and heads up his own blues/roots outfit THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

 

27
Dec
15

2015 JOHN EMMS SOME THINGS I LIKED (AND DID NOT LIKE) MUSICALLY-PART 1

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Creative people live longer. Well, at least we act younger.

Most of my friends in music internationally and locally are creative.

It can’t be helped. Sure, we live your life, but kind of live in our own world.

Colin Linden’s Rich In Love is the best roots album this year. The track Everybody Ought  To Be Loved should be on everyone’s playlist.

There are many more but start with that.

Sure, I listen to new artists. I really did not enjoy The Weekends’ material. The new single Hills was too disjointed.

Disjointed is cool when you have Lana Del Rey with High On the Beach, love that track or the funkiness of Alabama Shakes Don’t Wanna Fight.

Then again what is the idea on the  “Shakes” new cd of  having the mix run over all the lead vocals.

That shit gets messy.

Nothing can beat good band dynamics in 2015 or any year. That’s why you have albums like Monkey Junk’s Moon Turn Red

What, you don’t own it?

Play the track Light It Up then talk to me. Holy crap stand back folks

Ian Fletcher Thornley’s new album Secrets will blow you out of the room

The intelligent emotional songs will find a way into your life.

I can’t put it any simpler than that. Tracks such as Just To Know I Can, Feel and Step Outside the Line are soul deep.

Impressive work from drummer Glenn Milchem and bassist Dave McMillan create ambience that’s intoxicating.

Another killer roots album of the year has to be Jason Isbell’s (former Drive By Trucker) new album Something More Than Free.

If It Takes  A Lifetime and 24 Frames are killer, start with those two tracks.

Of course I listen to Adele.

25 is damn good. Remember it’s not all slow. Funky tracks like Send My Love are blissful, but then again When We Were Young will tear your heart out.

Still what can explain how excellent Keith Richard’s Cross-eyed Heart is

Has he not written enough classics?

Apparently not. Trouble Is. Robbed Blind, Nothing On Me and many more songs raise the bar.

Should it shock us that he continues to be this vital?

More to come soon!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music columnist, Sun Media contributor, and blogger read in 106 countries.

JOHN is also a musician and songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

03
Nov
15

ERIC BIBB JJ MILTEAU LEAD BELLY’S GOLD-POTENT RELEVANCE-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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It’s not a stretch to say that Lead Belly’s Gold is the most important roots/folk album of 2015.

Yes, you have heard these songs by tons of artists, but I can guarantee you NOT LIKE THIS!!

In fact, this excellent new cd by Bibb and Milteau shows that Lead Belly’s music is as potent and relevant in today’s society as it was in the 30’s and 40’s.

The real gift is the interplay by the players (check out Stewball, When that Train/Swing Lo Sweet Chariot) and the sheer sound of Bibb’s voice.

On tracks such as On A Monday, the gentle shuffle roots of Midnight Special and of course Where Did You Sleep Last Night with an incredible solo by Milteau Bibb is powerful and poignant all in one.

The original songs such as When I Get To Dallas and the haunting Chauffeur Blues which I consider a new modern classic are gems.

A mix of 11 live recordings and 5 studio tracks, a gorgeous booklet, plus incredible detailed notes by Bibb.

The care and class of this entire project by everyone involved is timeless.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician, Sun Media contributor and songwriter.

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

John’s blues/roots music with THE SHAFTMEN is on Youtube, Amazon, Apple Music and Spotify

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

13
Oct
15

BRYAN ADAMS-GET UP-“FRESH GARAGE RETRO ROCK- REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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Bryan Adams comes off sounding very fresh in a garage retro rock vein on his sparkling new album Get Up.

In fact, I feel 20 years younger just sitting here with this baby cranked up.

Thunderbolt, and Do What Ya Gotta Do smack you upside the head with guitar crunch, while Don’t Even Try sparkles with mid 60’s Beatle-esque vibes.

Adams simply is joyous when he belts out  “A battered Vox and a beat up Gibson, that’s all you need to get the job done” on That’s Rock n’ Roll

And he makes you a believer. 

Working with Jim Vallance and the remarkable Jeff Lynne on the new cd Adams sounds like he has found a new voice.

“We had a ball making this record,” Adams says through his new album bio. 

“The thing was, we ended up doing a song every other month and eventually we had an album. What’s interesting is we’d never discussed the idea of ‘making an album’ together, it just happened!”

If this is what “just happened” sounds like,  then I’m going to plug in my guitar and amp soon as I finish this review.

Elsewhere We Did It All has gorgeous chord changes and a vocal that’s as good as anything Adams has ever done.

You Belong To Me is Canuck groove via ELO and Go Down Rockin whips up Reckless, The Rolling Stones and Oasis in under 3 minutes.

The four recordings of the new material with just Adams on acoustic guitar and solo voice on this album will floor you.

Back in 1965 on the single Do You Believe In Magic by The Lovin’ Spoonful John Sebastian wrote “I’ll tell you about the magic, and it’ll free your soul, But it’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger ’bout rock and roll

Adams has got that magic on Get Up, make no mistake!!

THIS cd is available this Friday-Oct 16th 2015.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter, radio podcast host and Sun Media contributor.

JOHN also has a blast Rockin the blues rock/roots with THE SHAFTMEN

CHECK THEN OUT

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

12
Oct
15

DULCIE TAYLOR & FRIENDS RE-DEFINE COUNTRY ROOTS/ MUSIC WITH WIND OVER STONE-BY JOHN EMMS

DULCIE T 1

I can’t think of many other roots/country artists whose songwriting is as potent as Dulcie Taylor.

Her new album Wind Over Stone is an Americana masterpiece.

The trick here on this album, like with any great singer-songwriter is to let the listener be able to be on the “inside” with the artist.

And that is what Wind Over Stone captures in abundance

Not Here Not Today is tip of the freedom hero sword,  Only A Dreamer lets you in on the inside heart and When The Cherokee Roamed is cinematic in it’s scope.

And, folks you have only heard by this point the first 3 songs of the cd.

Other highlights include the Mellencamp feel of Heart In A Cage, the gem Love Like Yours and Mine and George Nauful’s vocals on I Wanna Ride.

In fact Nauful’s work on this entire album along with the great mix by Keith Olsen acts like a glue of musical substance

Forget about “bro country” and the top charts of country.

This album is the real thing.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter, podcast radio host and Sun Media contributor.

Visit JOHN on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

JOHN’S MUSIC WITH THE SHAFTMEN  WORLDWIDE HERE

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

23
Sep
15

MADCHILD-SILVER TONGUE DEVIL-PERSONAL PAIN MEETS BIG SKILLS-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

madchild 1

It’s impossible not to like an album that is this tenacious, angry, inspired, and hopeful all at the same time.

But that’s what you get on Madchild’s latest cd Silver Tongue Devil.

Songs as good as Painful Skies, Jackel, Devils and Angels and Everyday featuring CeeKay Jones galvanize the listener.

To be sure some may find this rhyme fest explicit, disturbing. and controversial.

Yet the lyrics also reflect and inspire thousands with his true life story

The album’s hooks suit Madchild’s confidence in himself.

On this album Madchild continues to push ahead on his own re-invention.

This cd demands your attention!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/songwriter/musician and podcast radio host

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

check out John’s and his Blues Rockin friends THE SHAFTMEN

http://www.theshaftmen.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

 

23
Sep
15

COLIN LINDEN-RICH IN LOVE-“EXCEPTIONAL ROOTS TAPESTRY” BY JOHN EMMS

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Rich In Love Colin Linden’s new album combines the songwriter, the player and the singer into gorgeous roots Americana

These are stories worthy of the first three Band albums and mid period Tom Waits.

Songs like Delia Come For Me, The Hurt, and the masterful title track featuring Charlie Musselwhite and then Amy Helm on the outro breathe in an ambience of blues, roots and gospel.

Elsewhere tracks like I Need Water, No More Cheap Wine and Luck of A Fool featuring Resse Wynans add some Nashville meets Memphis via Linden’s own organic guitar work .

Date With The Stars is easily one of Linden’s best songs period. If Elvis Presley was alive he would have probably covered it.

All this is held together by drummer John Dymond and bassist Gary Craig who seem to anticipate Linden’s every nuance.

With the possibility of Rosanne Cash’s The River and The Thread I can’t think of any recent album that is so completely inside of it’s songwriter.

This may be Colin Linden’s closest personal feelings put out for all to see.

Exceptional recording on all levels.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician, Sun Media contributor and podcast radio host.

Check John with his Blues Rockin’ friends THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

http://www.theshaftmen.com

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

18
Sep
15

KEITH RICHARDS-CROSSEYED HEART-“GROOVE, HEART AND PLENTY OF SOUL” CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

keef studioKeith Richards Album Graphic

When you make a cd this soulful and fiery at 71 years old, retirement is not even a thought.

This is a man making music that he feels and plays deeply.

Check out the opening acoustic solo title track. It’s mixed so up front you would think you were right in the room.

The band, mostly Richards on guitar and bass, the fantastic groove of co-writer/co-producer Steve Jordan, guitarist Waddy Wachtel and plenty of guests breathe feel and dynamics into every track.

The sheer propulsion of Heartstopper, Trouble, and Amnesia with the late and great Bobby Keys sitting in just kill.

The spiritual ballads Just A Gift and the exquisite Robbed Blind with gorgeous steel guitar from Larry Campbell rank up there with the best ballads of Richards long career.

Cameos with Aaron Neville on the soulful Nothing On Me and a duet with Norah Jones on Illusion with Richards on piano dig deep.

Jordan, the Winos and Richards always get in the reggae pocket and the track Long Overdue fits well next to rockers like Substantial Damage and the Otis Redding-esque ballad Lovers Plea.

Rolling Stones albums and Keith Richards solo work are different beasts.

If anyone else made an album this good, this late in their career it would be held in high esteem.

And so it is!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician, Sun Media contributor and podcast radio host.

Check out John with THE SHAFTMEN

http://www.theshaftmen.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

VISIT JOHN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

16
Sep
15

MONKEYJUNK-MOON TURN RED-CATCHY WITH SUBSTANCE-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

mj moon turn red

If any cd could be called catchy with substance then it’s Moon Turn Red the fourth release from Canada’s MonkeyJunk.

It is impossible not to love the hooks and musicianship on this album.

From the killer tone of Tony D’s slide work on the opener Light It Up, with Steve Marriner ripping a throaty lead vocal and harp behind Matt Sobb’s shuffle one thing  is clear.

This band has come to lay it down.

After the push and pull accents of You and the Blues Traveller/Black Keys vibe of Show Me Yours, your ready to hear Hot Hot Papa.

David Wilcox lends his own genius to his classic re-make and if your not dancing on your patio with this, you should take a nap!!!

MJ take their songwriting to a whole other level on the Free/Paul Rodgers vibe of Live Another Day and the gorgeous Luther Allison influenced R & B/ Soul of Meet Me At Midnight.

Showing your influences while creating a unique original sound is a gift.

Mixing that with the chops of this trio just ups that ante.

Moon Turn Red is the band’s most cohesive work to date.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/songwriter-musician, Sun Media contributor and podcast radio host.

Check out John on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

Check out John’s Blues Rocking Band THE SHAFTMEN

http://www.theshaftmen.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

08
Sep
15

DAVID GOGO-VICKSBURG CALL-“PRIMO BLUES ROCK”-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

DavidGogo_PromoPhoto_byScottDoubt72dpi

The “straight on” blues rock takes on David Gogo’s new album Vicksburg Call are hard to resist.

Case in point, I cranked this up at a recent barbecue and everyone asked who is that? It sounds great.

Exactly.

You just know it works.

From the outset of Cuts Me To The Bone, the punchy What’s Not To Like or the covers of Stephen Stills/Manassas Jet Set or Neil Young’s The Loner Gogo keeps it simple while ripping off some killer lead work.

The mid tempo ballad Our Last Goodbye is a gem, Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown fame takes care of the solos and fills on Fooling Myself  and Gogo goes pop with a superb vocal on Annie Lennox’s track Why.

Drummer Bill Hicks and bassist Jay Stevens go a long way in keeping this album feeling cohesive.

Simply put.

Gogo knows his stuff and your gonna’ like this folks!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/blues rock singer-songwriter, radio host and Sun Media contributor.

Check out John and the band here.

http://www.theshaftmen.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

08
Sep
15

JOHN MAYALL-FIND A WAY TO CARE-“STILL PROMINENT, STILL VITAL” CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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One listen to John Mayall’s new album Find A Way To Care and it’s clear that his playing is as vital as it’s ever been.

Check out the horn section and Mayall’s killer organ solo on The River’s Invitation, his solid vocal/piano solo on the upbeat title track and his gritty cover of I Want All My Money Back.

Wow!

Guitarist Rocky Athas burns his way through the afore mentioned Money Back, the bonus track War We Wage while the great  drummer Jay Davenport and bassist Greg Rzab are inventive and sturdy.

Elsewhere, Mayall accompanies himself on Crazy Lady, gets funky on the cover of I Feel So Bad and absolutely nails the piano solos on Long Summer Days.

Mayall. is a Blues Music pioneer and as far as I can hear as vital and prominent as he ever was.

Excellent work!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, blues rock songwriter, Sun Media contributor, radio host and vocalist with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

13
Jul
15

JEFF HEALEY-BEST OF THE STONY PLAIN YEARS-VINTAGE JAZZ, SWING AND BLUES-“PULLING ON THE HEART STRINGS”-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

jeff healey jazz

Due out this July 17th Jeff Healey Best of The Stony Plain Years Vintage Jazz, Swing and Blues will knock out music fans with a sweet swing of jazz inspiration.

Jeff and the band swing like mad on the opening Three Little Words, then have a good time nailing The Sheik of Araby live at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

I mean this compilation is contagious stuff folks!!

Jeff grabs an electric guitar on I Would do Anything For You, everyone solos and you just can’t help but smile.

Healey did literally sell millions of records around the world as a blues rock bandleader but the sheer warmth of Jeff on tracks like Pardon My Southern Accent and indeed anywhere on this disc is downright emotional.

Yes you heard me, Emotional

If you want to get to Jeff Healey’s heart then all you have to do is listen.

This glow reminds me of when Jeff and myself walked into Stompin’ Tom Connors’ music birthplace at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins Ontario.

It was only a moment in time but smiling ear to ear in yesteryear we was.

An absolute must have.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician.

Have some fun and check out John and THE SHAFTMEN here

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

13
Jul
15

PORQUIS ROCK & BLUES-THE NEW EVOLUTION-MONKEYJUNK, DIGGING ROOTS, CONOR GAINS, AND MORE UP THE ANTE-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

DIGGING ROOTSGHOST TOWN BLUES BANDSTEVE MARRINERTONY DP REDDICKERIN

NOTE..

This review will run copy in shorter length with Post Media Timmins Daily Press copy due shortly

thx John.

Summer days and nights at Porquis Junction took on new significance this weekend.
With a diverse set of artists that could best be described as roots with rock and blues overtones there was a sense of musical community.
The fans and staff I spoke with came away with a sense of listening to the realness of what the artists were putting out.
“I think this weekend shows that enough people from this area want this festival to continue to be a special summer event. We have had tremendous help from yourself and media outlets who are excited explained organizer and guitarist Luc Doiron
That sentiment was echoed by musician/event person Jack Larabee.
‘We are already making plans for next year, in fact were having draws for tickets for 2016.
Adding a small portion of Rock Music on the Friday night to the event is a good thing and the crowd response to it and the award winning recording artists here on Saturday shows it’s all about the music. and that’s a good thing’ said Larabee.
Friday was highlighted by a hard rock set by Drivyn with Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath covers and originals, to the always solid  R & B/Rock grooves of Jack and the Ripperz to a crowd pleasing dance floor blues set from Jake and the Fundamentals with superb vocals by Jesse Thomas and the killer dynamics of Jake Thomas’ guitar and band.
I could not make the opening set from Inviolet due to a previous engagement..
Saturday drew heavy on recording artists and audience involvement.
This was easily set in motion by Saturday’s opening set by 23 year old Cambridge Ontario native Conor Gains.
Gains makes you a believer.
Gains and his band displayed not only solid original material but organic covers of Bob Dylan all set ablaze by killer guitar trade offs with the incomparable Jimmy Bowskill who was sitting in with the band
.
This basically set the tone for what turns out was a hot day musically and weather wise.
Erin McCallum who also acted as emcee set her music apart by standout Memphis style vocals on slower tempo songs like Complicated Woman and It’s Time .
Harp wizard and storyteller Paul Reddick who actually had fans in attendance from his Sideman era group days played a mix from four cd’s including his latest project Wishbone.
It was a blistering set backed by alumni from Monkeyjunk.
By far, two of the most interesting sets came via The Ghost Town Blues Band all the way from Memphis Tennessee and Digging Roots an amazing Native family group fronted by Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish.
GTBB led into their set by playing the New Orleans anthem When the Saints Go Marching In as they entered from the audience to the stage.
What followed was a high musical standard of Allman Brother Band classics, New Orleans Gumbo-esque music and superb originals from their cds Hard Road To Hoe and Dark Horse. Songs like like Big Shirley and Memphis Train stood out.
To say this band was funky and entertaining is an understatement. Wow.
Digging Roots are all about good vibes, family grooves and indigenous roots.
Stand out original songs like Rich Girl, Hwy 17, and I believe a song title  For The Light transcend musical genre.
The audience dance participation on a fantastic native dance number was superb.
MonkeyJunk took to the stage shortly after 10 p.m.and drew out the campers and the entire audience onto the dance floor doing what I call “The Porquis Shuffle”.
Crowd pleasing is the word for this Juno winning Ottawa trio.
And the best part of the band’s music is it’s done from the perspective of hard working solid musicality.
The sheer amount of groove coming from drummer Matt Sobb, organic guitar master Tony D and the very gifted front man Steve Marriner is vital.
Including at least 2 excellent tracks from their fourth album to be released in a few months, as well as songs You Make a Mess, Jah Nay Say Kwah and their cover of Muddy Waters Tiger In Your Tank their set stuck like glue
It was clear the band was having fun.
Vocalist Steve Marriner took a few minutes to pay tribute to Peter “Sab” Sabourin one of the founders of the Porquis Blues Festival and dedicated a song to his inspiration .
It was very classy and moving and drew an emotional response from the crowd.
Porquis Rock and Blues will flourish with new musical artists, old friends, new friends, and memories of things past and present.
The evolution has begun.
photos John Emms and Jean Marc Regimbal
JOHN EMMS  is a veteran music journalist/Sun Media freelance, online radio host and songwriter
JOHN fronts up the hard blues/ roots band THE SHAFTMEN
The band has released 3 original albums and gained consistent airplay on Galaxie Blues and CBC Radio
Read John in the Timmins Daily Press
13
Jul
15

ALAN JACKSON-ANGELS & ALCOHOL-THE FIRST REAL COUNTRY ALBUM OF 2015-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

alan jackson cd cover

Alan Jackson makes real country music, that’s just the plain truth.

And on his new album Angels and Alcohol due out July 17 he hits it out of the park.

No cookie cutter stuff here folks, and thank God there are still artists of Jackson’s credibility.

For his first new cd in 3 years Jackson writes 7 of the 10 tracks.

The stunning less is more approach pays huge dividends on the title track and the opener You Can Always Come Home.

Basically, on those tracks it’s Jackson’s clear and concise vocals, an acoustic guitar, some banjo, a dobro here, a fiddle there.

And feel, folks.

You know that long forgotten element that is devoid for the most part in country songs sounding like another and another for the last 5 years.

Band wise things get bumped up on the goodtime “leaving anthem” Jim and Jack and Hank, in reference to Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Hank Sr

Jackson then goes Roger Miller-esque on the terrific track Flaws. and has a ton of fun with the “temptation” jump of  You Never Know.

Elsewhere Jackson sings the hell out of I Leave A Light On.

Heck Ol’ George Jones is smiling listening to this one.

I guarantee you that folks.

Jackson’s integrity is in full force on Angels and Alcohol

It’s the real deal, let there be no doubt

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, his blog is read in over 105 countries

JOHN also fronts his own roots rockin’ band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

CATCH JOHN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

28
Jun
15

TRAGICALLY HIP-TO KIRKLAND LAKE AND THE NORTH WITH LOVE AND MUSICALITY-REVIEW JOHN EMMS

DSC03097HIP KLG DOWNIE

The Tragically Hip know and love The North.

This night was the first of two sold out nights on the Kirkland Lake leg of The Tragically Hip’s 2015 Fully Completely Tour.

This being the tour that features that 1992 Diamond selling album live in it’s entirety.

The Hip and the North.

It’s all good folks.

Maybe some of our readers have forgot the group played Fort Albany back in 2012 for the Great Moon Gathering.

And of course all of us in Canada and the city of Timmins know that Fifty Mission Cap is written about our own and former Maple Leaf star Bill Barilko

That song, along with Tom Cochrane’s Big League is easily a blue print for hockey anthems.

Heck, I had just watched the hockey draft before heading out to the show.

Hockey aside, and the Emms family name knows hockey, this was simply a magical night.

 

Their blistering all encompassing first opening night provided fans with a glimpse into the group’s tough yet at times intimate sound.

The love of Kirkland Lake and indeed all who attended from all over the North, Quebec, and points south was felt

“Oh yes, we can feel that vibe” said guitarist Paul Langlois talking after the show.

We feed off of it and it becomes an integral part of what we do live on stage.

It’s impossible to describe the band’s sound but it’s safe to say the whole band comes from a righteous place of heart and musicality

And besides Langlois should know.

His interlocking guitar work with lead guitarist Rob Baker is a mainstay of the band’s compelling groove.

With the swagger and pull of Johnny Fay’s drum work in tandem with superb bass work from Gordon Sinclair it’s the perfect fit for one of Canada’s most important frontmen/songwriters Gordon Downie

Downie’s swagger and intelligent lyrics often bring transcendence to any Hip concert fan.

This is a singer who looks his fans in the eye and reacts with the band on every dynamic.

Yep, he’s that good!

Hip Fandom is a whole other other gig folks!

You may remember these guys have headlined festivals where there have been upwards of 50,000 people.

But, on this night it’s all about KL and the incredible Kirkland Lake Festivals committee headed up by hard working Robin Connelly with massive support from the community.

What can you say?

The Hip for not one but two nights.

That will suffice.

I’m a writer not a photographer but I did ask to get moved along the front barricade for a decent shot.

I found myself up next to a smiling man in his mid 30’s

“Hey man how are you?  he asked

Good I said, What a vibe coming off the band, it’s incredible.

Oh yeah, for sure he replied it’s my 19th show.

“My friend and I drove down from Sault Ste Marie, we knew this would an intimate show.

The Timmins turnout alone for this show let alone the next night was large.

The Hip have always operated on their own internal musical clock.

Highlights of this show were many

At The Hundredth Meridian, Locked In the Trunk of a Car, Wheat Kings, My Music At Work and Blow at High Dough come to mind.

Most of it all, it comes down to 5 guys performing great songs.

A dialogue between the band and fans that on this night captured a unified voice!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician and Sun Media contributor.

JOHN fronts up his own blues/roots group THE SHAFTMEN

The band has released 3 original albums with a keen eye to The North and Canada

And, is writing on their fourth ..Check out the band on ITunes and youtube worldwide.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

 

08
Jun
15

BRAD ABSHER & SWAMP ROYALE-LUCKY DOG-SOUL ROOTS SUPREME-CD REVIEW-JOHN EMMS

B ABSHER 1

Anyone who thinks the 70’s Soul/R & B sound is not vital has not heard this absolute vital cd.

With updated 2015 engineering but still funky with old school roots Lucky Dog is always on my playlist.

Every song makes sense in groove and melody.

Whether it’s Absher’s classy originals like I Can’t Wait, I Need A Drink, and the swampy I Wanna Be Your Man or covering the great William Bell songbook on Miss Your Water and grooving New Orlean’s style on Allen Toussaint’s Lipstick Traces, Absher sounds relaxed and confident.

On his own Not Tonight, Absher gives in to a best Nashville-esque ballad.

And it works wonders.

Absher’s band on this cd bassist Larry Fulcher, drummer Mike Patton, and keyboard man Barry Seelen just can’t miss.

Lucky Dog is soul/roots supreme folks.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun Media contributor/online radio host, and songwriter/musician.

Check out John’s band THE SHAFTMEN on Youtube and Apple iTunes worldwide

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

Follow John on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

07
Jun
15

JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS-LIVE IN 1967-MIND BOGGLING BLUES BUCKET LIST SET-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

mayall 67

JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS-LIVE IN 1967, are you kidding me.

Why, this was not released before is insane.

It may be a mono recording with no fancy pants , but hold onto your hat folks

John Mayall’s interview from his promotion recalls:

“I’d known for a decade or two of the existence of these tapes and in fact Tom Huissen had sent me a CD with 50 second teasers for some of the tracks that he’d secretly recorded at our London shows,” recalls Mayall. “Last year, Tom decided he wanted the world to hear these performances and work soon began on restoring the already fine quality on the old reel-to-reel tapes.”

Let’s face it readers, if you could go back in a time machine and witness John Mayall, Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood gig at the Marquee Club in 1967  it would make any blues fan bucket list.

In fact, the fly on the wall effect on hearing this lineup at this time is mind boggling.

How good were they?

Just listen to Peter Green rip guitar solos through Looking Back, The Stumble and his inspirational solo on Stormy Monday.

This is the stuff of legend folks.

John Mayall is and always has been one of the greatest band leaders period.

Here, as is now Mayall is the glue and the organic centre.

His work on this cd with Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Some Day After Awhile, the groovy organ solos on Streamline or blowing mean and lean on Brand New Start is the real deal.

Mick Fleetwood and John McVie support the solos, bang on in the pocket and went on to form Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green.

That says it all.

Some of the songs vary a wee bit in quality, but I can tell you Freddie King and Otis Rush are smiling from ear to ear in blues heaven.

A must have for any John Mayall or blues fan worldwide.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician, Sun Media contributor, and radio host.

John also fronts his own blues/roots rockers from Canada.  THE SHAFTMEN

The group has released 3 original albums all gaining National Airplay.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

VISIT JOHN ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

07
Jun
15

CHERYL LESCOM & THE TUCSON CHOIR BOYS-1953-ROOTS, BLUES, AND ALL THAT’S GOOD-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

c lescom 2

Authentic, powerful and filled with gutsy emotion Cheryl Lescom has released one of the best blues/roots cd’s of 2015 with 1953.

Opening with the street life hustle of Dime Store Lover, then gliding into the 50’s radio friendly Soul Shakin’ Romance and channeling a modern day Lena Horne vocal on songwriter Lynn Jackson’s Surrender, Lescom hits the heart’s centre.

Not enough can be said about how well the players in the Tucson Choir Boys and the guest musicians understand the soul of the material.

Dave The Cat, Les Graham, Sameday Ray, Kristine Walsh and Robert Reid pull off gorgeous chops on the beautiful It’s Not You It’s Me  which has a standout vocal by Lescom.

In fact, it’s one of the prettiest tracks I have heard over the last few years on any level.

Then, there’s the powerful mid tempo track Places I’ve Been also written by Lynn Jackson and the punchy lioness fire of Nice Mix of Crazy.

Either way, Lescom and Tucson Choir Boys turn out a distinct and powerful performance.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/musician, radio host, and Sun Media contributor.

JOHN has his own fun with his blues/roots band THE SHAFTMEN.. The band has released three full length albums and gained National Airplay with all.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

Follow John on Twitter

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19
Apr
15

GUITAR HEROES-JAMES BURTON, ALBERT LEE, AMOS GARRETT, DAVID WILCOX-“UNFORCED TELECASTER PASSION”-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

All4-OnStage-1Guitar-Heroes-Photo-David-Wilcox-James-Burton-Amos-Garrett-Albert-Lee-by-Holger-Petersen

Guitar Heroes  is a landmark one night only, no edits live “guitar extravaganza” cd that proves passion for music has no restrictions.

The guitar work on this cd by James Burton, David Wilcox, Albert Lee and Amos Garrett is off the chart natural and unforced.

Whether it’s an original song like Wilcox’s Bad Apple, the instrumental Coming Home Baby or the classic That’s All Right Mama it’s all done with a respect for what live music is supposed to be.

A celebration.

Amos Garrett and David Wilcox come up with unexpected bends and solos that defy category and make you grin from ear to ear.

James Burton and Albert Lee take more than a few chances, while still retaining the sound you fell in love with in the first place.

On the over 7 minute cover of Ray Charles’s Leave My Woman Alone everyone rips and trades licks.

And yes it’s never a mess.

For fun, the band ends with a quick 10 second nod to Eric Clapton’s Layla.

Again readers, this is a GUITAR featured album.

Absolute fave track has to be the gorgeous Only The Young.

You may remember the track from The Ventures and the Ricky Nelson vocal version from the mid 60’s.

Make no mistake…Great support band with Jon Greathouse, Will MacGregor and James Harrison Smith.

Crank this up at your next BBQ!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/vocalist/guitarist with Canadian Blues/Roots Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

THE BAND’S music is here.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is now on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

17
Apr
15

SAB.. LIVING OUR DREAMS-BY JOHN EMMS

Blues Night 010

Peter Sabourin aka SAB was not afraid to live his dreams.

In his dreams he could possibly become an award winning commercially successful artist.

And let’s be very clear.

Sab was an amazing frontman and force of nature.

Yet in this dream, he could take care of his family, his friends, and tour the world like other musical icons.

But, Sab became much more.

In his dignity, and his loyalty and right up to the end he became what we all wish to be

The hero of other’s dreams.

I’m not talking musicians.

I’m talking about children who grow up now having a dream.

Believe me I see it in the face of my grandson James.

He has dreams, that I want to help him with.

I watched this dream in the faces of seniors who came to Sab’s funeral and may have not known a single song of his.

They got it, whether they followed their dream or not.

Sab’s dream unified people you may only see and talk with once a year.

Or for that matter never met until the funeral

We were caught up despite our fears, our success, our own lives.

It may sound dramatic but Sab’s Dream should remain a lasting lesson.

You can go out on your shield, but don’t forget your shield offers protection to others.

Sab’s notoriety was his humanity.

And believe me, that is a great legacy.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, vocalist/songwriter with Canadian Blues Roots Rockers.. THE SHAFTMEN

Their music is available worldwide

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

john’s radio show/podcast is free on iTunes and can be heard here.

http://emms.podbean.com/

 

25
Nov
10

KEITH URBAN-GET CLOSER-” working the core” cd review by john emms

Keith Urban’s new cd Get Closer proves that when an artist is one with himself his music is one with the world . There are about 3 or 4 killer singles here. And as most people know that by itself will carry an album into the stratosphere.

By nature, country artists don’t make “albums’ as front to back musical statements. (Hotel California, Born to Run, Pet Sounds)

But the more you listen to this record, the more it gets inside you. One thing is clear.

Keith Urban is a man working from the core. This man is putting his soul out there.

What’s going on in Urban’s world you ask?.

For that check out the vintage vibe of Waylon Jennings guitar as Urban pulls it out for Georgia Woods. Hang in there for his monster lead guitar lines on the outro. Check out Keith when he gets swallowed up by enormous weight and substance of Lori  McKenna’s song The Luxury Of Not Knowing. It’s a stunning vocal.

Maybe you want to get inside the push and pull of Right on Back to You. Heck the man can hardly get his breath. This kind of material will move any listener.

Maybe you want to check out the killer dynamics of Urban and the band on Put You In a Song, or the scrappy mid gut punch of You Gonna Fly all done up with some great melody charging out of the groove. There is a “Police/Sting like dynamic to Long Hot Summer and it works big time.

This is a relationship album and for that fact it tries to cover a lot of bases in all relationship scenarios.  Tracks like  Big Promises and All For You at least for me are not as strong as some of  the aforemetioned material.

Urban believes in his instincts. Personally, I believe he should write more of his material.

The album ends with a solid reading of Winning a number that Santana put on the charts back in 1981.

Keith Urban has the ability to put out a classic album in the true sense of the word. Maybe some day he will.

In the meantime this is an album that pulls from his core. Make no mistake it will get inside of yours.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist and musician. Check out John’s own band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 




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