The biggest international names in a wide blues genre such as B.B. King, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, Van Morrison and others all understood that blues music incorporated styles such as soul, gospel, acoustic blues, blues rock, and even country blues. It was that blend that launched their careers and was always there in their songwriting.  And in the case of new albums by Gregg Allman, Morrison and Clapton it is still there today.

 Canadian blues artists such as Jack de Keyzer, Colin James, Downchild Blues Band and others are well aware of  this fact when releasing new recordings. Here are some new albums that fall into this genre

Damon Fowler-Devil Got His Way-This is one of the few blues albums that I have heard this year that simply gets better with each listen. First off,  there are no tricks here folks.

It’s all in Fowler’s relaxed groove and songwriting that keeps you surprised all the way through.

The title track has a slippery groove and slinky slide work. American Dream has a  great storyline , We’ve Got A Good Thing has a swampy staccatto riff that just won’t quit, and Once In Awhile just jumps out at you

Elsewhere Fruitstand Lady gets southern countrified, 28 Degrees gets a Ry Cooder groove, and Don’t Call Me could have come from The Atlanta  Rhythm Section and sounds like it would kill at radio.

 At 25 years of age Fowler and his sturdy band are a treasure.

Fraser/Daley-Self Titled-If you mixed Hank Williams, Fred Eaglesmith, and Charlie Angus into a stew and simmered it you would probably have a version of Fraser/Daley.

 The duo’s debut cd is countrified blues.  Heck you may find yourself singing along to tracks like 140 on the 401, the ultra hip song  Blues All Around Me and even The Relentless Gambler which sounds like The Delmore Brothers via Johnny Cash.

Musically the sound is Fraser playing  brush bass, and Daley playing both acoustic/electric rhythm/solo styles of guitar with both guys singing.  Bottom line is it works like a charm at plenty of points on the cd. Their version of  Bad Luck Blues is totally organic and a good indication of  their sound.

On the other hand there is no doubt some fans may enjoy the bluesier tracks to the acoustic country of Turn This Rig Around,  Jesse Fuller’s She’s No Good complete with kazoo solo or even the “steer holler” of Lemonade Stand

A cool side project by very experienced players.

Danny Brooks/The Rockin Revelators-Soulsville Three/Live at the Palais Royale-Let’s face it. Few musicians have the whole package.  But Danny Brooks is without a doubt one of them.  Gifted vocalist, excellent musician, solid songwriter and integrity at his core, he is in every way the “Real Thing”

Bottom line, as soon as you hear Brooks sing your transported. Busting out with the slide drenched Carolina into the gospel soul of Hold Your Head Up, or over to his stunning cover of Somebody On Your Bond Brooks and his killer band rule.

Check out tracks like Other Side of The Cloud, the swampy Righteous Highway,  the sanctified No Turning Back, and Still Got This Thing For You. Solomon Burke surely is looking down at Brooks and smiling!

The core band featuring Lance Anderson’s Hammond B3′, Bucky Berger on drums, bassist Denis Pinhorn and Papa John’s King tastefull guitar work the groove without over playing.

A must have cd for fans of blues and deep soul music!!!  

JOHN EMMS is veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician


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February 2011

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