Given the blues' relatively limited structure, it's difficult these days to be truly original; after all, hasn't everything been done before? In lesser hands, even so called "original" material often sounds merely derivative. But when you combine talent with imagination, respect for tradition with a healthy dose of musical innovation, the result can be both surprising and refreshing.
Hailing from Niagara Falls (the Canuck side), The Nightshift Blues Band is a trio of savvy veterans (guitarist George Tirpko, bassist Jerry Salfi, drummer Gary Storin) whose experience is amply evident in the craft and care they've put into the all-original playlist on "Kids Are Jumpin'," the band's second indie outing.
Starting out with the funky "Slip It In," full of sly double-entendres, they quickly move into jump/swing territory on the title track; there's a bit of a West-Coast feel to this one. "Tore Me Out" is vaguely reminiscent of "Thrill Is Gone"; perhaps its just a minor-key issue, as the song's definitely original, giving guitarist George Tirpko a chance to employ some stabbing leads to great effect. "Blues For Billy C" is curiously the least bluesy track here; quite lovely nonetheless, it starts out with acoustic guitar before George tries his hand at some Santana-style sustains that build to a snarling climax. A bit of a surprise, perhaps, but ultimately one of the disc's strongest tracks.
"Price That I Pay" is a swinging number that could be a Powder Blues outtake; "Natural Man," driven by moody organ courtesy of guest Rito Vetrone, is a little weak, but we're back on track with "Blood From Stone," a slippery funk workout that lets bassist Jerry Salfi have some fun. Everyone rocks through "Roll Me Baby," which may not take any poetry prizes but sounds exactly the way a song with that title should sound; "Eye To Eye," a study of miscommunications within a relationship, has all the trappings of classic power-trio territory. Finally, "He Can't Love You" wraps things up with a slow burner, providing a fitting close to a satisfying set.
All three band members share vocal duties, Gary taking one lead and Jerry and George splitting the rest; truth is, none of them are particularly strong, but thankfully no one tries too hard, avoiding the dreaded and dreadful over-singing that many a lesser vocalist hides behind.
Production is okay; there's a certain lack of "depth," not uncommon for indie releases, but it's offset by a good, clear mix. Arrangements are inventive where appropriate, straightforward and uncluttered where necessary, with enough surprises to keeps things interesting throughout
Bottom line? All in all a good outing, albeit falling a little short of "must have" due to vocal limitations. Still, there's much to like here, and I can't help but think the Nightshift Blues Band would be a great act to see live!
Box 1249, Fonthill, Ontario, Canada L0S 1E0
Phone: 905-892-5239 or 905-358-5063
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