Heal My Soul
The Flame of a Blues Colossus Burns Brightly.
Born March 1966 and died March 2008; Jeff Healey was a rare talent indeed; blind from the age of 1 and yet still learnt to play guitar at 3; and for a number of years was one of the finest Blues-Rockers on the planet.
Sadly after a relatively short; but well lauded career he succumbed to cancer at the tender age of 42; and to mark what would have been his 50th birthday his family have arranged for these tracks to be painstakingly re-engineered and mastered as a celebration of his skills and indeed; his life.
Normally I flinch when such albums land through the letterbox; but everything from the CD Artwork through to the Press Release intrigued me; and halfway through my first listen I knew that this release was not only worth it; but justified as it would be a crime for these songs to remain in a dusty box on a shelf.
The album opens with some of Healey’s gutsy trademark licks; and when his distinctive warm, leathery voice slides in I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. Even if this had been the only new song that was being released it would have been a Master-stroke; as it instantly shows new listeners what a talent this guy was.
On the song Please; Jeff actually gets his ‘Funk on’ in a Prince kinda way; showing a completely new direction from anything I remember; and hints at ‘what might have been’.
I’ve never been a lover of long, drawn out guitar solos on Studio albums; much preferring the shorter and more considered pieces that we used to get from Rory Gallagher and indeed what we hear again from Jeff Healey; the minute or two he ‘rocks out’ on Put The Shoe on the Other Foot ; proves that you don’t have to rattle on for ten minutes to show your genius.
The oddest song here is I Misunderstood; but only in as much as it’s Jeff Healey covering the greatest living Englishman, Richard Thompson; and what a sparkling interpretation it is too. Well worth the entrance fee, on it’s own….as they say.
Not everything is as fast and furious as those songs; Jeff can get down low and dirty as good as anyone; try the beautiful Kiss the Ground (You Walk On) to hear how a Blues Love Song should sound; there won’t be many finer songs released this year.
We even get to hear him play acoustic on Baby Blue and All the Saints; which is a simply beautiful love song and showcases his fine songwriting skills too.
Highlights are absolutely everywhere here; but I will point you to two special songs, as a buyers guide – Moodswing; must be over ten years old but manages to sound futuristic in the way he uses his guitar and the way his voice is mixed sounds a little bit spooky.
The other is Temptation which opens with an acoustic guitar and eventually leads into a sexy Blues Rocker that will make the guys get a little amorous and ladies’ eyes twinkle. Who said the Blues is miserable and one directional?
No one who ever heard Jeff Healey; that’s for sure.
Released March 25th 2016