Long time Chicago resident Carl Weathersby still regards the south as his home. After achieving recognition for his work with Billy Branch, Weathersby launched his solo career with 1996's acclaimed "Don't Lay Your Love On Me." The career continues to grow and develop with the release of Weathersby's fifth studio album, "Hold On."
If you needed any evidence for why Weathersby is such a well respected musician, the opening track "I'm Back Again" makes a pretty good case. There are shades of his mentor, Albert King, about his guitar phrasing, and he has a really good soulful voice that sets it all off nicely. This is even better demonstrated on Homer Banks' "Angel of Mercy," where Weathersby vocals carry just the right amount of emotion to let you know that it is coming from the soul.
The album has nice variations in pace, throwing some funk into the mix every now and again. This works to great effect on tracks like "Nothing Hurts a Man (Like a Woman Can)" and "Freedom" where everyone gets to strut their stuff in the introduction. Things are at their most sublime, though, on the slower numbers. The title track, in particular, is outstanding with the combination of horns and Weathersby's voice and guitar making it sound like something that could have come out of Muscle Shoals during its heyday.
Although Albert was Weathersby's mentor, on the closing track, "When Push Comes To Shove," the guitar sound is more like BB King. It all starts off very low key, with just guitars and bass, before brushed(?) drums and keyboards drop in to flesh out the sound, making a fine, nicely laid end to proceedings.
"Hold On" should serve to further cement Carl Weathersby's place as one of the best blues musicians around. You are left with the overall impression that he is always in full control of what he is doing. Every note of every guitar solo is carefully measured, and every vocal nuance is perfectly calculated to deliver just the right amount of soulful emotion. A lot of the current crop of blues guitar slingers would do well to take a listen to "Hold On" to find out how it really should be done.