Strongman Blues Remedy VOLUME 1

Strongman Blues Remedy
Volume: I
Stony Plain Records

Damn Fine Swampy Soul Laced R&B Straight Outta Canada.

Just as I always looked forward to releases from the late lamented Bloodshot Records label; Canada’s Stony Plain has gleefully picked up the mantle, with everything I’ve received from them in the last couple of years being at the very least ‘interesting’ but regularly fascinating and Tip Top from start to finish.
Just when I think that I must have reviewed something or other from absolutely every Canadian Roots musician/band; Stony Plain keep turning up new acts for me to salivate over – such is the case with the quaintly monikered Strongman Blues Band; which is actually the name of founder and frontman, Steve Strongman!
With 7 previous albums under his own name; Strongman decided a slight change of direction was merited, so gathered a bunch of his (Award winning) friends together to record this steamy mix of Rhythm & Blues with a hard lump of solid gold Soul at its heart.
If you didn’t know better, you’d presume the opening track, Hard Luck was recorded in Memphis on a hot July night; as the sweat literally drips out of your speakers as Strongman takes an age old Blues adage; and puts a contemporary 21st Century spin on it ….. with some Jimmie Vaughan style guitar and rinky dinky piano accompanying a crystal clear vocal performance.
That opening track sets the seal on what is to follow; with some sultry and swinging slower numbers like Swansong (featuring vocals from Steve Marriner), the heartbreaker I Don’t Miss (Harrison Kennedy vocals) and; of course the stinging album closer, Love Coming Down, featuring Mr Strongman himself knocking the listener sideways.
As you see so far; the band features a variety of singers; and for once that makes for some fascinating changes in tone and mood; especially Dawn Tyler Watsons’ raspy and full of longing Fine Young Man, which takes us into Sheba Potts Wright territory; and Harrison Kennedys’ second song the bodacious I Like to Ride; which sashays around the room like a nightclub charmer stalking his prey …… if you get my meaning 😉
There’s a golden thread weaving through every track here; even though each and every one is as different as chalk and cheese; and that’s Steve Strongman’s guitar playing and his deeply thoughtful and personal songwriting.
For my Favourite Track it’s come down to a toss of a coin between the heartbreaker White Lightnin’; which is as far removed from the George Jones song of the same name as you can get; with this one reminding me of Roy Buchanan; it’s The Blues of course; but with S.O.U.L at its core and very essence; and the other is the old school Texas Saturday night slow and seedy True To Me; which sizzles and shimmy’s in a way I’ve not heard since Johnny Winter died.
I was going to ignore it; but there’s also a song here that I genuinely don’t like …. and in my defence the happy-go-lucky Jug Band/Honky Tonky rhythm sticks out like a sore thumb anyways; but as a vehemently anti-drugs advocate all my life; Gettin’ Stoned sounds like the sort of throwaway song you’d find on a Lovin Spoonful or Arlo Guthrie album 50 years ago …. and it wouldn’t have aged well either.
Apart from that; I’ll tell you how good this album is; it’s been in my car’s CD Player for well over a week now; much to the detriment of several albums that need listening to prior to their reviews; but HELL! This album and band are so damn good I can’t bring myself to take it out and give them a try!

Released June 17th 2022


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