Hailing from Chicago and based in Los Angeles, Oscar Jordan is a new name to me on the blues scene, and on the evidence of this album he is an up and coming contender. Given the sheer breadth of stylistic diversity of this album, it is more accurate to say that as a singer, guitarist and accomplished song-writer Oscar uses the blues genre as a launch pad from which he leaps headlong into a compelling mix of funky signatures, heavy duty blues rock work outs, flighty soulful offerings and 70ís retro rock. In short while Eclectic Soul lives up to its name, Oscar has gathered together his influences under the watchful eye of former Ry Cooder producer Phil Bloch to produce a quite excellent album all of his own making.
Together with The Mighty Sons of Hercules, Oscar has refined his own brand of soul. Several outings may be derivative and undoubtedly owe much to artists like Ben Harper, as on the mighty hook of Hendrix T Shirt and the beautifully restrained Rough Neck. Taj Mahal looms large on the New Orleans flavoured soul of Like A Lover Should, but ultimately thereís enough great playing and superb singing to nail down the project as Oscarís very own.
He opens the album with a brace of funky workouts and gradually works his way through a dozen shades of soulful blues with a pit stop at the door of Carlos Santana on You and I, and adds a gospel feel to the ironically titled I Liked You Better When You Were Drinking. The latter doesnít quite work as guest vocalist Karen Dilworth doesnít quite bring the necessary gravitas to her phrasing to pull off the gospel feel. But that is a rare aberration, on an album crammed full of great moments.
On the instrumental Loretta, thereís a sumptuous bass line from Randall Yamamoto, which combined with Oscarís very deliberate big toned guitar notes and Nick Karvonís cymbal splashes, sounds like the blues track Zappa never recorded. .Thereís also a jazzy cool shuffle on the obviously titled Be Cool, which is nicely juxtaposed with the altogether tougher Sing Your Song.
All baby boomers will surely recognise most of the varied musical interests at play, but Oscar has a lovely soulful voice, and an intuitive wide ranging understanding of his musical antecedents and heís harnessed them all brilliantly to deliver a hugely impressive album
By time of the closing acoustic These Blues, you realise this is indeed one of the albums of the year (2005).
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