Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

NICK MOSS BAND FEATURING DENNIS GRUENLING

THE HIGH COST OF LOW LIVING

2018-04-04

After 12 discs on his own Blue Bella label Chicago-based guitarist/blues belter Nick Moss has left behind the rocking, jam band groove of his recent releases and joined the storied Alligator Records label for this new release. Not only does Moss have a new label, he has a new bandmate in harmonica ace Dennis Gruenling who has had a robust solo career of his own. With producer Kid Anderson at the helm the band has captured lightning in a bottle with an old school Chicago blues album that will have you checking the liner notes to make sure it wasn’t recorded years ago. Fittingly Moss announces his return to straight forward blues by kicking the disc into gear with an in-your-face guitar riff before the band jumps into the pocket and gives Gruenling a chance to show his wares on "Crazy Mixed Up Baby". The feat is repeated on the title track with its tasty blend of slide guitar and harmonica and a rollicking piano break by Taylor Streiff. The jumping "Get Right Before You Get Left" and the instrumental "All Night Diner" are instant party starters with their upbeat jump blues while "No Sense" adopts a loping Jimmy Reed groove and finds Moss exhibiting vocal chops that recall both Kim Wilson and Rick Estrin. "Note on the Door" is a straight forward shuffle that finds Moss looking for solace with his various relatives who happen to be “Old Grand Dad”, “Uncle Jim” and other assorted bourbon-based characters. The interplay between the entire ensemble is tight and right with individual members stepping in and out of the spotlight just before the self-indulgence line is crossed. While most of the material here is original, the band brings the same sense of passion to its wailing take on Otis Spann’s "Get Your Hand Out of My Pocket". In addition to his solid contributions on harmonica, Gruenling penned and takes lead vocals on two of the tracks, "Count on Me" and "Lesson to Learn". The first is a Chuck Berry Style rave-up with Gruenling mostly giving the instrumental spotlight to Streiff who pounds the keys with abandon while the later finds him alternating between gruff vocals and meaty harmonica riffs. With not an off moment from beginning to end, this disc should elevate Nick Moss and crew from Chicago’s best kept secret to prominence on the national blues scene. Wow! SMITTY

review by Mark

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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