I suspect few readers of this review will enjoy a personal aquaintance with Terry Blankley, a.k.a. The Blues Daddy. More's the pity, as he's one of the coolest cats and fascinating raconteurs it's been my pleasure to meet.
Now based in Oshawa (just outside of Toronto), Terry's been a professional musician for some fifty-odd years now, and has the stories to prove it - including the one regarding his success as a country artist (!) in the European market. Recorded in his own studios, this self-titled effort is a first under his own leadership.
Terry, who plays both keys and harmonica, is joined here by friends Doug Swain on drums, bassist Danny Sandford, Bruce Gorrie on sax, and an extensive cast of guitarists too numerous to list here. Suffice to say that instrumental support is uniformly excellent throughout, including Terry's own keyboard work. (Effective though it is, his harp work never really ventures beyond the rudimentary here).
One doesn't spend as many nights singing in smoky bars as Terry has without picking up a certain grit, a bit of sandpaper in the voice. Terry has it in spades, a natural, convincing authenticity that makes one believe every phrase he sings. Which brings us to the disc's lone problem; for whatever reason, Terry occasionally either over-sings here or has chosen to process his voice in ways that detract from his naturally laconic delivery. When he relaxes and simply goes with what comes naturally, he's damn near magnificent; witness "Jarvis Street," or the breezy "The Old Bluesman," where he sounds uncannily like Mark Knopfler, or the harder-edged "Mississippi Love Machine," where he growls and shouts with the kind of authority one wouldn't dream of questioning. But elsewhere one gets the impression he was just a little too eager to try out some new studio trickery, and rather than enhance it merely obscures his talent. Next time he'd do well to stick with the simple and straighforward; he doesn't need any help, and the less there is between that voice and the listener the better.
Terry's originals here are spiced here with a few well-chosen covers, placing him in much the same musical territory as Charlie Rich; like the Silver Fox, his is a borderless blend of country, blues, and R&B melded into a seamless whole. Nice stuff for the end of the evening, when you're all alone and the blues are the best company you're likely to find.
690 Simcoe Street North,
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada L1G 4V7
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