Looking at the tastefully abstract cover of this disc, one would be forgiven for expecting complicated high-brow jazz or even quiet, reflective tunes of the type made popular on the Windham Hill Label. But one would be dead wrong on both counts. Instead, as befitting his long career in some of the best blues bands in the land (Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and, currently, the Proven Ones) Anthony Geraci has crafted a disc that features his skills on the 88’s while leaving plenty of room for the rest of the crew to shine in an environment that is definitely the blues. This time around he has enlisted Dennis Brennan on vocals and harmonica, Troy Gonyea and Monster Mike Welch on guitars, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass, Jeff Armstorn on drums, Scott Arruda on trumpet and Mark Early on tenor and baritone sax. Walter Trout and Peter Ward guest on guitars on a single track. "No One Hears My Prayers". The menu includes upbeat big band style showcases, "Love Changes Everything", cuts with a doo-wop feel, "Tomorrow May Never Come", slinky, moody ballads, "Daydreams of a Broken Fool", classy cocktail lounge ballads a la Charles Brown, on the Earl Hines/Billy Eckstein classic "Jelly Jelly", stomping, harmonica fueled, blues shuffles," Mister", upbeat piano rave-ups that honor the legacy of Little Richard or even Jerry Lee Lewis," Tutti Frutti Booty", dark, ominous roots rock, "Dead Man’s Shoes", and a couple of mid-tempo cuts that give Geraci a chance to shine without showing off, "Hard To Say I Love You" and "Living in the Shadow of the Blues" the later of which reflects on how he’s attracted to women who smoke cigars and stand at the bar. Brennan’s vocals are well-suited for this diverse collection adding grit and nuance throughout while the assorted guitar aces and the horn section add plenty of spice to the mix without muscling Geraci into the shadows of his own release. A well-balanced collection that will particularly appeal to those looking for a break from the normal blues diet of guitar, bass and drums locking into yet another shuffle, boogie or extended jam. These cuts are economical (most clock in around 4:00 minutes) yet feature a broad range of sounds and rhythms making for an engaging listen from beginning to end. SMITTY
review by Mark
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