Just in time to kick off the summer BBQ season, Handy Award nominee Nick Moss lays out a tasty mixed bag of recipes on the picnic table. A seasoned supporting cast, peppered by some original tunes combined with Nick's meaty talent provides good eating for those backyard speakers. "Count Your Blessings" on Blue Bella Records includes Blues greats Sam Myers, Anson Funderburgh, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Barrelhouse Chuck, some tasty work from Lynwood Slim and a fine band with wife Kate (rhythm guitar), Andy Lester(bass), Greg Campbell (drums) and occasionally Johnny Bradley on bass.
The CD has an entirely different energy than Nick's last effort, "Got A New Plan," with a more whimsical approach. The goal appears to be "have fun" and "don't take yourself too seriously". Nick's dedication to the authentic Chicago Blues has been witnessed countless times and this CD is no exception. Production-wise overall is a notch above "Got a New Plan" with Nick's vocals being more upfront this time. Nick's writing reverts more to his Chicago Blues roots and less to standing out and making a statement as in his last CD.
"Count Your Blessings" can be broken down into two distinct records: Nick as frontman and Nick as sideman, with Nick's originals in the first half of the CD and classic covers featuring lead vocals by Sam Myers, Anson, Barrelhouse Chuck and company on the second half. The production feel is very live throughout the record and there are distinct consistencies - Nick's hot guitar playing and a strong rhythm section that ties this all together. The performances are spontaneous and nothing appears contrived or hokey.
Barrelhouse Chuck is a fine addition to the Nick Moss band as he compliments Nick's guitar throughout the record. I witnessed a live performance with the two and it definitely is the sum of the parts with the two together on stage. When Nick takes more of a back seat on the vocals and a front seat as sideman, he seems more relaxed. I sense that Nick doesn't love signing as much as he loves playing and his ego has no problem with sharing the stage. Nick is a humble artist, but not a push over, which comes from growing up in the Blues scene.
There are a variety of styles on "Count Your Blessings" ranging from electric Chicago Blues to Booker T & the MG's to Memphis Boogie to Dick Dale. The majority of the tunes carry the Chicago Blues sound and the instrumentals are strong. It wouldn't hurt for Nick to include more instrumentals on his records, as his playing definitely can carry it off - he's not afraid to go out on a limb. Nick captures each style invisibly as only a true student to the Blues could.
The original songs that are the strongest for me are "Do You Know." "Hip Toss" (Booker T), "I'm Mad" (down home Chi-town Blues), "So Tired" (great harmonica), and "W-A-S-T-E-D" (Memphis Boogie). Nick stands out especially on the track, "I Chose to Sing the Blues" with his wah-wah guitar. Lynwood does a great job on the vocals on this one that's reminiscent of the Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper super session sound. What can one say about Sam Myers, other than the man is a character and it's good for Sam to have his usual man, Anson Funderberg on his tracks. Especially fun is the song "She Brought Life Back to the Dead" sung by Sam. The harmonica tracks from both Lynwood and Curtis are very good throughout the CD. A real treat is hearing Barrelhouse Chuck do "Barrelhouse Woman."
This ensemble creates that down home Chicago Blues sound that's perfect for the summer BBQ. This CD lays out the biggest spread of the summer, so "Count Your Blessings" by pick this up at your local record store or contact Blue Bella records at http://www.bluebella.com.
Blue Bella Records
164 Division, Suite 203, Elgin, Illinois 60120
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