Archive for September, 2020



For me the integration of Blues, Soul, Blues Rock, and Roots music has always been diverse and wide ranging.

I have been listening intently to a lot of new releases that weld together a lot of these elements. Here are the reviews.

Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar-The Reckless One-Passion, Pride and just great ensemble playing runs through The Reckless One from start to finish.

Due out November 20th this album will be a welcome tonic to this insane year.

Samantha Martin is in top form and the power pleading vocal on One Heartbreak and I’ve Got A Feeling  (not the Beatles track) due out in a few weeks showcase this yearning tone.

Elsewhere the rock solid Don’t Have To Be and the almost E Street Band vibe of Sacrifice are big winners.

All That I Am is a showstopper written with guitarist Curtis Chaffey (as are a number of others) and is easily one of the best songs Martin and the band have recorded.

Meet Me In the Morning finds the band covering Bob Dylan in a powerhouse arrangement.

It should be noted Delta Sugar is one a hell of band of excellent musicians.

Supreme stuff!


Dione Taylor-Spirits In The Water-The spiritual but contemporary potent mix of songs and studio production on this album is going to turn a lot of heads.

The percussive slam of How Many Times the first single is flat out dangerous, and the banjo/roots guitar tinged song Spirit would make Mavis Staples proud.

Co-writer/guitarist/banjo player Joel Schwartz creates a great ambient wash throughout the album.  Just check out the excellent Down The Bloodline.

Elsewhere Taylor a Regina Saskatchewan native who has been a musician since the age of four is both reflective and sophisticated on the haunting Water and the riff driven Workin’

As a songstress Taylor can perform superbly in many styles and genres.

This can sometimes be a problem when putting out an entire album, but that is not the case here.


Heathcote Hill-Stories We Are Told-This is an album that gets better with each listen and could easily be a radio favourite.

Each time out I hear something new.

In fact the album hangs together in a Fairport Convention/10,000 Maniacs Blind Man’s Zoo era vibe.

In case you’re wondering that’s a good thing folks.

Don’t Let Go, All I Remember, and Hey all sound like natural radio hits to me.

It should be noted that Megan Porcaro Herspring’s voice and indeed the band are much more confident and upfront on this recording than some of their live videos posted to their website.

You and Sunday Afternoons has a special almost Judy Collins vibe that gets right inside of you and the title track and Tell Me What Your Thinking has real time ambience with Tom Nelson’s excellent guitar work and songwriting.


Savoy Brown-Ain’t Done Yet-It’s crazy to think that Kim Simmonds who formed the band in 1965 is STILL making solid and very entertaining Blues Rock music in 2020.

All Gone Wrong and the minor chord beauty of Devil’s Highway swagger out of the gate making you just want to turn up the volume.

Borrowed Time and the first generation blues rock title track are evidence that Simmonds is indeed not done yet.

Throughout bassist Pat DeSalvo and drummer Garnet Grimm leave a lot of room for Simmonds killer guitar tone (check out Feel Like A Gypsy )

Honest and true Blues Rock.


Northern Social-Self Titled-Infusing new ways to play as a blues rock duo Dylan Wickens and drummer Mike Rajna create a damn good whack of cool riffology on this 5 song EP.

Am I Wrong and Waiting rip and snarl their way into your conscience and Back For More shuffles it’s way through the back door after hours.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician/songwriter Juno Awards Judge and contributor to Post Media.








Alex Bird and The Jazz Mavericks reveal a vital, original, and intimate passion with their debut album Whisky Kisses.

The album is due out October 23 2020.

The magic of Whisky Kisses is borne out of original songs that reflect the ambience of let’s say the noted American Songbook (The Gershwins, Cole Porter)  without copying them.

The soundscape created by Ewen Farncombe on piano and Hammond B-3, bassist Scott Hunter and drummer Eric West deliver a cool bed for Bird’s direct and passionate vocals.

The opening track Fire Not Warmth percolates under a late night bass intro by Hunter, Farncombe’s B-3 and West’s stick work.

Bird’s unique and soothing voice is truthful and upfront on this song and throughout the album, but underneath there lies a type of danger not usually associated with short 3 minute jazz songs.

That’s a good thing folks.

Baby I’ll  Have You has a playful Sinatra feel but the standout for Bird’s vocal ambience comes on the simmering Now is The Night and the captivating The Way She Moves.

These songs are contrasts in tempo but Bird’s vocal interpretation of the songs is confident and grabs you right out of the speakers.


It’s notable Bird early in his life was taken to jazz clubs by his father and listened to and sometimes met many big time musicians such as Oscar Peterson and others.

It’s here on this album this absorption reaches critical mass.

The title track written by Bird with songwriter Charlie Angus (who also co-produces)  and the excellent I Almost Remembered with a great solo by Farncombe offer up an intimate kind of conversation on the poignancy of love.

This album is special and will launch a new career.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician/songwriter, Juno Awards Judge, Maple Blues Awards Nominating Panelist and contributor to Post Media






September 2020