Denver’s Bill Towber may need a new nickname soon. While “Stay Tuned” continues the bouncy, breezy trend established with 2003’s “Midnight Creep,” the new outing features stronger and more convincing vocals and a somewhat nastier (in a good way!) edge to the sound, no doubt largely due to the increasingly sure production of Nick Moss, who seems to be popping up all over these days.
Moss, who also contributes guitar to handful here, is strictly old-school, opting for a dense, gritty sound that values a tight ensemble work over individual grandstanding. In the process, Easy Bill has been transformed from a likeable yet relative lightweight into a player who’s downright dangerous.
That’s not to say everything here is dark and dirty. Bill can still toss off a fun tune like “Right String But The Wrong Yo Yo” with seemingly effortless aplomb, right down to the “Sweet Georgia Brown” quote thrown in for good measure. “$100 Woman” is a bit of a lark in the best ‘lacks a nickle’ tradition. And the insouciant swagger Towber brings to Guitar Slim’s “Twenty-Five Lies” features just the right combination of playful innocence and underlying menace.
So yeah, Easy Bill still knows how to have, and more importantly, how to project a sense of carefree fun. But elsewhere there’s a tough, take-no-prisoners quality to proceedings that mark Towber as anything but easy. He’s no longer playing at being a bluesman … with this release he exhibits a convincing assurance and maturity that show he’s clearly arrived.
All bases are covered here, from the furious west-coast swing of “My Kind Of Woman” to the flat-out rock ‘n’ roll of “The Kind Of Girl (My Mama Warned Me About)”, from the swampy balladry of “Jeanine” to the furious “Willie And the Hand Jive” groove that provides a firm foundation on “City Girl.” The party comes to a close with the no-holds-barred titular instrumental, giving Bill, producer Moss, and organist Mark Richardson lost of room to stretch out.
An absolutely stellar outing that ought to place Easy Bill in the front ranks, this one’s well worth searching for. Welcome to the big leagues, Bill!