Truth is, how much you like this disc may well depend on your own tolerance for tunes that stray from hard-core blues; if you're looking for nothin' but, you'll only get half a platter. If your musical interests can accommodate, for lack of a better term, "bluesy interpretation" of forms well outside the twelve-bar idiom, there's much to like indeed.
Things start off well indeed with a raunchy take on Jimmy Rogers' "Ludella," with squalling harp coutersy of Ottawa's wunderkind, "Southside" Steve Marriner and rollicking piano from Guy Del Villano. Then it's a sharp turn for a breezy, calypso-flvoured take on Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." "Razor Blade" is a menacing, minor key blues that allows Steve to strut his stuff on moody chromatic.
The next two, "Tailspin" and "Plenty Of Nothin,'" wouldn't sound too out of place among Bob Dylan's latest output, though Drew's vocals are considerably easier to understand; at any rate, the former is a bit too much like SoCal pop, but the latter is a pleasant, easy-going little ditty. It's back to blues for the grinding "Hawk My Ring," with Drew again going for (and getting indeed) a fifties-style raunch. His slide work here is razor sharp, but the vocals are curiously hard to get a handle on. "I'd Do Anything" is another folk-rock number, Drew's laconic drawl here augmented with Kathy Kennedy's fervent background vocals; the contrast is appealing. "Funk E Thaing" is just that - a funky instrumental with Drew chickin' pickin' his way through a slippery groove. Short and sweet, it's one of the strongest numbers here. The title track features clever wordplay, but despite a likeable enough groove it doesn't stand out as particularly memorable. "Wee Wee Baby," by title alone, couldn't possibly be anything other than a blues tune; here Drew and friends get nasty again. They may not add anything new (though Mr. Marriner's harp is exemplary) but they do it impeccably, with a vintage tone many would kill for. Finally it's the straight-ahead pop of "Comin' On Home," an infectiously bouncy tune with a great hook; it's a perfect closer, lingering long after the last notes have faded.
Final score? Drew's vocals are adequate-to-good, depending on the material. Production's a little muddy here, a bit tentative there, but all in all it's okay. The material is pretty varied, however, and that might put hard-core blues fans off. Still, if you're looking for a relaxed, pre-mixed platter with a bit of everything done well, or you're willing to settle for just a few blues tunes done very well, this is a good disc.
2251 Quinton Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1H 6V2
Web : www.drewnelson.com
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