Times Like These
12 tracks, 43 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: May 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
When we first heard him fronting Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets more than two decades ago, it was quickly clear that Darrell Nulisch had something more in his hip pocket than just his harmonicas; as gritty and resourceful as his playing was on that small yet worthy blues instrument, it was his voice that would spell trouble for just about anyone else choosing to stand in front microphone with a blues band behind them. Times Like These marks another slice of exceptional work from Nulisch on the Maryland-based Severn label, and along the lines of his previous offerings, it's a grinding and incredibly well crafted recording featuring a mix of sizzling blues, R&B, and blue-eyed soul. One of
the things that marks the work of Darrell Nulisch is, that upon listening to him, had he been of age and recording during the Stax era, he'd have easily been placed in the upper echelon with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and others, and his voice is perfectly suited to what's included. Little Milton's Lonely Man powers ahead with golden vocals out in front of Jon Moeller's smoldering guitar and a blazing horn section chugging on all cylinders, and the rich and soulful original, Handle It With Care, bubbles along with Benjie Porecki's fine B-3 work and a soft glow from the horns balancing
things out. Something Else, another Nulisch-penned item, recalls the Excello offerings of Lightnin' Slim decades ago with great down-home harp, while Don't Look Back is handled with class and aplomb, showing just how much Darrell can push the boundaries and still leave his roots intact. Good Thing is as lowdown as a minor-key blues can get and Moeller steps forward once again with more edge in his concise solo than many would manage in an entire album, and for the Ashford and Simpson nugget, Runnin' Out, the groove steps up and becomes more menacing
and deliberate. Ray Charles' The Snow Is Falling is a rippling shuffle where Moeller tosses out chunks of nasty blues guitar ahead, behind, and all around Nulisch's gravel-soaked voice and hands in one his finest moments in a startling pair of twelves that reek of grease. The title track and Breaking Out are two more stellar examples of Nulisch delivering the goods over a time-tested Southern-soul
grinder as well as a throbbing R&B backbeat, and for Otis Redding's That's A Good Idea, everything clicks smoothly. Whether tackling long-lost classics and breathing new life into them, or writing his own finely-tempered material, Darrell Nulisch has an innate ability to make seamless recordings that flow as smooth as warm molasses without any of the artificial sweeteners that mask the true flavors of this veteran. His drive, intensity, and burning passion all appear in Times Like These, and if there's any justice at all, this should garner a few awards when the smoke clears. Hats off to David Maxwell, Robb Stupka, Steve Gomes, and everyone else involved in
creating this masterpiece. Due May 27, 2003, but in the meantime, head to www.severnrecords.com for tour dates and loads more.
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