2007-05-24After tearing up the band stand from coast to coast during his long stint as the guitarist for Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, Rick Holmstrom embarked on a solo career that has given him the chance to stretch in directions only hinted at in the context of that band’s sound. His 2002 release, Hydraulic Groove, confounded some blues fans with its tape loops and sonic experiments but was hailed by many as the most interesting thing to hit the blues racks in some time. This release is a return to more traditional fare. Playing in a stripped down trio format, Holmstrom visits familiar T-Bone Walker style territory on the string scorching instrumental "Peculiar Hop" and on the rip roaring "On the Vine" which could have dropped straight off a Mighty Flyers disc. From there he moves on to everything from muscular rock, "Tutwiler", to atmospheric Doors-like groovers, "77 Red V8", to loping shuffles, "Better Way", to moody instrumentals straight from a gritty Western, "Descanso" and a track that channels Warren Zevon, "Hey Johnny". He even takes a shot at Dylan’s oft covered classic "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and reinvents it with Jeff Turmes’ wailing saxophone doing the heavy lifting. While he isn’t the strongest vocalist in the world he has improved considerably over the years and sounds most comfortable when he follows the lead of fellow West Coast artist, James Harman, and semi-talks his way through tunes as on "Dig Myself a Hole". Overall, while straight blues are hard to come by here, this is an inventive, fun disc that reaffirms Holmstrom’s decision to strike out on his own. Smitty
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