I was unfamiliar with Kevin Russell when this CD first landed in my mailbox although I have heard his playing and listened to his work quite a bit over the last few years without realizing it. He has been a professional musician and session guitarist along with a producer for well over 25 years, including stints in 707, Taxxi, Sea Hags, Whitesnake and played around San Francisco Bay area with Neil Schon of Journey as part of the "Russell-Schon Blues Band". He has also produced and played on several CD's put out on Mike Varneys "Blues Bureau International" label.
Background information aside, this is one really sweet and tasteful CD, combining songs similar to Robben Fords blues sound, Eric Clapton’s unplugged style and a couple of really great instrumentals. The instrumentals are real standouts on this CD, acoustically based and very pleasant to listen to. I find that the more I listen to it, the more I like it. All eleven songs were written by Kevin Russell and he knows how to write a good song. This is a mainly acoustic based CD with some electric guitar thrown in for some flavor. 'Damnation Alley' opens the CD with a acoustic rhythm that could also work really well as a heavy rocker. 'Move Closer To Me' is an excellent song that reminds me of Robben Ford in vocal and rhythm style. Sort of a shuffle with tasteful guitar work throughout. 'I Want This' sounds like it could come directly off Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" CD both vocally and musically. 'Leave You Alone' is another Robben Ford style song, again done very tastefully. 'A Longtime' with Jimmy Dillon on slide guitar has an almost county style to it, with a rock undercurrent. I could picture this being done by someone like the Allman Brothers. 'A Walk Through Indian Valley' is one of the two standout instrumental tracks, combining acoustic guitar with an infectious beat. within the tune are some acoustic harmonies that really add character to the song. 'Same Thing' is a slow electric blues song with vocals again similar to Robben Ford. 'In My Children's Eyes' is the second standout instrumental on the CD. Tasteful and understated would be a good description of this second instrumental combining an airy open sound with enough reverb to accent the acoustic guitars.
Bottom line: If you like Robben Ford's blues sound and/or Eric Clapton's unplugged sound, you should like this CD. There's a lot here that is not apparent on just one listen. If you want screaming over the top electric blues guitar, you won't find it here. What is here though...is something that stands out amongst the crowd without hitting you over the head for attention. I would highly recommend this CD. You won't listen to it just once!
Kevin Russell - vocals & guitar
Brad Russell - Bass
Mike Vanderhule - Drums
James Henry - Percussion
Jimmy Dillon - slide Guitar on 'A Longtime'
Russell Brothers Records
167 San Marin Drive, Suite 107
Novato, CA 94945
This review is copyright © 2000 by Robert Murphy, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.