John McNamara – Rollin’ With It

John McNamara
Rollin’ With It

This is the latest release from Australian John McNamara and is as fine a mix of contemporary blues and soul as you’ll find outside of any extensive Stax/ Motown collection.
It’s made up of Six John McNamara originals plus covers of songs you’ll be more familiar with by Little Willie John, Bobby Bland and Otis Redding.
First listen to tracks tells you that John McNamara is no newcomer. He’s played with the best of Australian musicians, not sure what that tells you but he’s also played to great acclaim across Europe, Japan and South-East Asia. On this particular outing he’s teamed up with the best that Memphis has to offer.
Wild Out There is a mid-paced romp through a ‘guy who’s done his girl wrong, A turns up on her door after the city has spat him out and reminds her it’s ‘Wild Out There’. There’s no mistaking his blues heritage in everything from his vocal phrasing through to his stinging guitar lines. Back this up with some crazy horn stabs and this could have come straight from any of my 60’s soul albums.
It’s a cover; but certainly none the worse for that, making it ‘nice’.
For the track Security I have to declare a personal interest. I have been an Otis Redding fan since I could shout R-E-S-P-E-C-T and normally head for the hills at the merest mention of a cover version of any track associated
with the great man; but, and it’s a big BUT, this is ok. I think there’s something in the ethos that you should only cover a song if you can bring something new to it, but sometimes, if it’s a real standard
like this, I like to hear a respectful version, and John McNamara does this in spades.
If he’s been saving this vocal performance for one song, he chose that right one. There are some covers that transcend the originals, think Wilson Picket’s Hey Jude! Al Green with To Sir With Love or Rod Stewart and Handbags &
If you’ve got Steve Potts (Booker T & The MG’s), Michael Toles (Bobby Bland, The Bar-Keys), Lester Snell (Albert King, Isaac Hayes) and the cream of Memphis soul/blues studio musicians you can reasonably expect a great album….and that’s what you get.
One for repeat plays.

Review by Tony Pearce
Released 21st May 2017


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