Griff Hamlin and The Single Barrel Blues Band
I’ll Drink to That
Luxurious Big Band Rhythm & Blues For the Connoisseur and Beginner Alike.
Probably more famous for his Guitar instructional videos and YouTube channel, Griff Hamlin has put something of an All-Star band together to release this ‘debut album’ by his latest inception, The Single Barrel Blues Band; and a finer name for what you will hear I can’t imagine.
With the emphasis on the Rhythm half of Rhythm and Blues opening track Almost Level With The Ground will not just have your toes a’tappin and your hips swivelling, but your memory bank telling you “that is you, that is!”
In the Classic Blues tradition this song is about ‘drinking your worries away on a Saturday night’ and it’s quality through and through.
To some degree there are no surprises here; but who wants surprises from Rhythm and Blues? Certainly not me …….. I just want to be entertained; and that’s just what these cats do; with Down and Out shimmering and shaking while Nothing Better simply sizzles like bacon and eggs on Sunday morning; and it’s just as tasty!
While I don’t know Hamlin’s back catalogue; he and The Single Barrel Blues Band reinvigorate a couple of his own older songs; and crikey Moses are they red hot!!
Louisiana Holiday and Got To End have a Big Band feel to them, with Tim Aker’s horn section giving it a mystical 50’s Nightclub feeling, while Hamlin’s singing voice slides deep into crooning territory on the latter, while he seriously makes his guitar weep with joy.
There are two songs on the album that I’ve wrestled with as to which is my Favourite Song; one is again from the back catalogue; Where Would I Begin is a rare beauty of a love song and just perfect for late in the evening; and I can imagine someone like Tony Bennett or even Harry Connick Jr keeping the exact same arrangement and making it into a huge worldwide hit, it’s so good.
The other is the album closer Bourbon and a Pistol which is pretty much a case of ‘keeping the best until last’ with Hamlin and Band regaling us with a really special ‘cheating tale’ in the style of ……….. well, themselves really!
While I said earlier that there are ‘no real surprises’ here; that’s the big surprise; Griff Hamlin and The Single Barrel Blues Band treat the Classic Rhythm and Blues genre with huge respect; but make the songs extra spicy and very contemporary too; which is quite an achievement.
Released 26th April 2019