Music naturally progresses, and the blues is no exception. What was once considered blues has now evolved to integrate elements of rock, soul, jazz, and pop. Riding the wave of this new genre, we find the eclectic sounds of Pacific Northwest based Left Hand Smoke with their second release, So Many Faces.
Not your typical blues band, Left Hand Smoke has been compared to The Dave Matthews Band; not in sound, but in category of "adult alternative" and have already gained regional, as well as national attention with their unique style. Although a college radio favorite, the band spent four months in the regular rotation on Seattle's KMTT with the song Step Outside. In addition, the song found it's way onto the KMTT compilation On The Mountain 6, along side such legendary artists such as Patti Smith and Tom Waits. The song Blue Eye Shinin' from the band's debut disc, was featured on NBC'S top-rated series ER.
So Many Faces is an assortment of many different genres. However, LHS at all times draw on blues as an underlying influence such as on the opening track Paradise Blues. This bluesy boogie-rock tune is reminiscent of Savoy Brown. With funky piano, smokin' drumming and straight-ahead rock and roll guitar, this little ditty just plain cooks.
With an acoustic guitar and harmonica coupled with smooth harmonies, the track Keep On Calling interjects elements of country and leans toward a more contemporary style.
Components of romantic soul dominate the ballad Step Outside showing signs of influence ranging from Van Morrison to Marvin Gaye.
The very upbeat Blood Runs Hot with a catchy little guitar intro and fierce breaks, along with the Hammond B3 hovering in the background, this track is as funky as any James Brown recording.
Left Hand Smoke are already headlining sold-out shows at top venues throughout the region, including the 1000+ capacity Showbox in Seattle and their self-titled CD was ranked #2 in North America on Amazon.com's Emerging Artists Blues Chart. At the same time, the disc has remained in the Top-10 in North America on the emerging Artists Rock Chart -- seven months in the Top-5, Left Hand Smoke have just scratched the surface with their brand of rockin-blues. With great harmonization's lead by vocalist Ben Mish, exalted lead guitar work of brother Will Mish combined with the high energy of every member, Left Hand Smoke is deservingly poised for super stardom.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tony Engelhart, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.