Marc Broussard
SOS 4: Blues For Your Soul
Keeping The Blues Alive

Smooth As Silk, Lush and Well Considered Blues For The Modern Age

Marc Broussard brings together another mix of Blue’s greats for the fourth SOS Blues album in the series.
Eagerly egged on by producer Joe Bonamassa, Marc skilfully blends his soulful voice into a range of standards with a healthy roster of guests stepping into the spotlight.

The great Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘I Asked For Water’ serves as a dark duet with J.J. Grey, a sense of threat simmering below the surface as the two vocalists trade tales of heart ache and betrayal. 

Roddie Romero’s cool guitar tone slices through ‘Cuttin’ In’ and compliments the rich orchestral arrangement that recalls early (and the best) Fleetwood Mac arrangements.

‘When Will I Let Her Go’ is the bastard son of studio 54 and the early morning sounds of a Chicago Blues club filling with factory workers, eager to drink away the redundancy of their manual labour.

If we peel away the guests and the lavish instrumentation; at the core of this album stands one man and his voice and it’s a great voice; smooth enough for Sunday, sad enough for Wednesday and just enough Saturday night to remind you of the power and soul that lurks just below the surface .

My only criticism is that at times this album feels too precise, too clean – too studio; a criticism often laid at producer Joe Bonamassa’s door over the years; and it hasn’t done him too much harm.
There’s an absence of off-mic shouts of encouragement; ghost notes flourishing in the mix, for me this takes away some of the potential energy of the players;  but what Marc Broussard has created is a lush, considered and Soulful album, creating a safe pair of hands to guide you back up the Mississippi, I am reminded of my mothers saying ‘not everyone likes lumps in their gravy.

This album serves as a great introduction to Broussard but also acts as a health check on the Modern Blues scene – and the vital signs are all looking very good indeed.

Review Courtesy H. Longsail
Released March 3rd 2023



Matt Andersen
Big Bottle of Joy
Sonic Records

Stubby Fingers Adds Exquisite Rhythm To His Electric and Eclectic Canadian Blues.

I’ve seen Matt Andersen play ‘live’ five times now; always solo – just him and an acoustic guitar; and he always impresses the Hell out of me, the way such a big man can sing and play that guitar so delicately.
His previous albums, while regularly featuring friends and fellow musicians always give the appearance of them being from a solo act.
Right from the opening bars of opening track Let It Slide; although it’s distinctively Matt Andersen singing it still sounds like a whole band in full flow.
The album follows on a similar drift; with every shade of Blues on offer, plus a hefty dose of Gospel when you’re least expecting it too.
A big part of me just wants to shout, “Trust me …. just buy it!” but that’s not really the point of reviewing is it?
Even by Matt Andersen’s lofty standards; there are plenty of exceptional musical treasures here that will thrill and surprise longstanding fans and new ones alike.
As early as So Low Solo the second track, there’s a funky and sweeping Hammond organ that comes and goes like a Spring fog; while Andersen and his delightful backing singers sound as if this was recorded in a Memphis Tabernacle.
The very next song Golden is the type of BB King ‘sound’ that Joe Bonamassa has spent decades trying to replicate; yet Matt casually drops it in to let you get your breath back and prime you for what is to follow.
Guitar nerds will be more than happy with this album; but FYI Matt Andersen is very much from the ‘less is more’ school of guitar playing; his solos are measured in seconds rather than minutes; and his songs are all the better for it.
I remember seeing Matt Andersen in concert before I’d heard his CD’s; and was stunned how such a huge and hirsute fella could be so delicate in his phrasing and playing; and man ….. can his songs squeeze your heartstrings like a clamp!
Here he does that with such grace on Miss Missing You and Only An Island; your family would forgive him if you died of a crumbling heart while listening to these words and that voice.
Halfway through the album Matt goes full on Joe Cocker with the punchy and funky-ass What’s On My Mind; and I don’t use that analogy or compliment lightly …. it’s 100% Fabulous with a capital F!
As a man who spent 25 years in the ‘shoe trade’ I was intrigued by the title of the final song; Shoes; and while not an ode to my collection of 24 pairs; it’s actually a sweet and almost Celtic love song, courtesy of some velvety and winsome accordion that has me conjuring up images of a potential video set on a creaking and grey harbour somewhere on Canada’s East Coast.
To all intents and purposes this is an album you will put on late at night; turn the lights down low and snuggle up with a loved one while you wallow in its beauty … but I have a couple of songs that I’ve particularly fallen in love with; Hands of Time would/could have been a Top 10 Hit across the English speaking world; pre-millennium; but quality and style have gone way out of favour in that market in recent years; so it will be left to the likes of RMHQ and specialist radio shows to promote it …. and if you were to hear it on the car radio, I swear you’d pull over and put the hazard lights on so as to hear it with no distractions.
The other is the one I’m choosing as my actual Favourite Song; simply because it’s a bit different from everything else on this particular album and everything Matt has recorded previously.
Rollin’ Down The Road has all kinds of musical ingredients in; a swampy Memphis style melody; barrelhouse piano AND organ, shuffling bass & drum combo; sizzling guitar playing and Andersen sliding in and out of the mix better than Van Morrison on a good night …. seriously; what’s not to like?
I can’t say if this is Matt Andersen’s ‘best album’ to date; as it’s so very different from everything that’s gone before; and that’s a brave decision for any musician to make at this stage of a career. Personally I think it’s the right decision as he can still tour solo and adapt these songs into that format; but when finances allow he can assemble this bunch of players for occasional concerts that will undoubtedly live in the memory forever.

Released 10th March 2023


Connor Selby CONNOR SELBY Deluxe Edition)

Connor Selby
Connor Selby

A Fully Formed Debut Sizzling Blues Album From Essex to Memphis via Dubai.

This album arrived alongside 8 others one day a few weeks ago; and as usual it was immediatly ripped to my hard drive, and then I had a quick listen to the first minute of Track #1 I Can’t Let You Go to make sure the quality was passable.
Yippee Why Aye Music Lovers!
Originally self released in 2021, which led to Selby being picked up to support Big Leaguers like The Who,  and kick start a bill with Pearl Jam, Stereophonics and Johnny Marr in the summer of 2022. 
Everything was put on hold until I’d played the whole album; and even then I was only removed; kicking and screaming by Mrs Magpie to spend quality time at a supermarket; or else I’d have just kicked back and played it all day!
I stand great stead by an album’s opening track; and the fulsome ballad I Can’t Let You Go ticks every box I have, the drum beat is joined by a majestic organ…. then a brass section fill your musical senses….. all before Selby and guitar even enter the fray; and when he does. it’s kick back, relax and listen time!
Apart from some Prog I dabbled with in the 1970’s I can’t think of another song that comes in just shy of 7 minutes long that opens an album? And …. the time absolutely flies by; and like everything that follows neither a word or note is wasted.
Those of us of a ‘certain vintage’ will play ‘spot the influence’ as the songs come and go; but why should it matter that there are elements of BB King, Peter Green, Eric Clapton and even Joe Bonamassa in the way Connor Selby plays and creates his songs ….. but he does it all in a way that will eventually become his own distinctive signature.
It’s all too easy to just immerse yourself in the overall ‘sound’ that Selby creates; but if you listen properly …. and I urge you to do so; his songs are quite exceptional for a young man and his debut album.
The delicately beautiful The Man I Ought To Be will ring a tear to a glass eye; whereas the heartbreaking Anyhow with its female harmonies and piano that sounds like it could be Ray Charles playing alongside the acoustic Hear My Prayer, take us to some truly unexpected Bluesy places with the youngster as our guide.
There’s even a cover song here from Ray Charles’ back catalogue and I’d wager nobody would know that if you hadn’t read it first and (the bonus track) My Baby Don’t Dig Me virtually sizzles from start to finish.
Speaking of the Bonus Tracks that close the album; all four are quite exceptional and show a maturity in his writing; although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anything that precedes I Shouldn’t Care or Love Letter To The Blues which simply sashays along as the sentiment in his words will have you nodding your head and thinking “Ain’t that the truth Brother Connor!
By the time you reach the sparkling the Hammond drenched, The Deep End which closes business; I swear you will be like me that first day and be desperate to play it all again, just to prove that your ears were right after all.
There are certainly a couple of the songs I’ve already mentioned that are contenders for Favourite Track status; but I’m slipping back to two of the earlier tracks to compete for the title …. Track #2, Falling In Love Again is probably the one track that kind of symbolises the album and something I can point you to as a ‘sampler’; beautiful and thoughtful lyrics wrapped up in a blanket of sweet guitar, chunky bass lines, a Hammond of The Gods and girly backing singers worthy of the Stax days!
Then there’s Emily; the ‘heaviest’ song here and a ‘dirty love song’ that stands out mostly for the guitar work that compliments Selby’s velvety smooth vocals that draw you in like a siren on the rocks.
I feel that I’ve ‘missed out’ over the last three or four years by not knowing about Connor Selby; but obviously the cognoscenti did as he has already been voted “Young Artist of the Year” at the UK Blues Awards for the last three consecutive years (2020, 2021, 2022); and this re-released album will ensure he’s on the Top Table in 2023.

Released March 3rd 2023



Dyer Davis
Dog Bites Back
Wildroots Records

Taking Blues Rock Back To The Future

WARNING! For regular readers of our reviews; DOG BITES BACK is a tad ‘heavier’ than what we regularly review in the Blues field …. but ….. WOWZA! It has knocked me for six!
At only 22 Davis has been in bands for 8 years; and what an apprenticeship he’s served; and coupled to his Father’s record collection of 60’s and 70’s Blues Rock ….. he’s gone into the studio with an album ‘oven ready’ inside his head.
I have to start with the album cover; which has Davis sporting a de-rigour ‘neck tatt’ shaved head and ZZ Topesque beard ….. but what piqued my interest was the Afghan coat ….. something I desperately wanted in my teenage years, and something my future was wearing on our first date.
I didn’t even have time to return to my office chair after pressing ‘play’ on the hi-fi before I was grinning and punching the air as the first few bars of Let Me Love You sprung from the speakers like a caged tiger being let loose! It took a couple of minutes for me to recognise it as it’s a Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart song from TRUTH …. and here I was listening on the day Jeff Beck died ….. serendipity or what?
WOWZA! To all intents and purposes this/was the music that helped shape my life in the early 1970’s; but the way Dyer sings and arranges his songs is pure 21st Century and sounds as fresh as those albums by Free, The Faces and Humble Pie did, way back when.
Dyer’s guitar playing on Train Wreck and the title track Dog Bites Back is right up there with Paul Kossoff and Ronnie Wood; totally understated but grizzly and dare I say it; sexy too; yet never over playing his hand and never threatening those ornery vocal performances.
Speaking of ‘vocal performances’ …. take a listen to the slow and broken hearted Cryin’ Shame and the evocative and rumbling Walk Away My Blues that show a young singer at the very top of his game as he enunciates every single word while sounding every inch the Rock Star.
Tucked away in the middle is a crackling slice of Swamp Rock too; Long Way To Go featuring Victor Wainwright who duets with Davis and plays some really funky piano; not just on this track but four or five others too.
On albums like this it’s all too easy to get lost in the music; but listen carefully to the piano led Angels Get The Blues and Wind Is Gonna Change or especially Don’t Tell My Mother (which sounds like a great lost Faces song btw) to hear whip smart lyrics that will find you nodding along with the sentiments therein.
There are aural highs and lows here from start to finish; creating an incredibly balanced set of songs; so for my Favourite Song I’m going to have to choose two; one a ‘pedal to the metal’ Rocker – Train Wreck, which features a brass section competing with the industrial rhythm section to be noticed in the background as Davis gives us his best Paul Rogers impersonation …. and the outcome is amazing.
The other, therefore has to be the Power Ballad Water Into Wine which is a great metaphor that will appeal to lovers the world over.
DOG BITES BACK closes with something of an autobiographical tale that will have plenty of listeners thinking AKA is about them too … which is quite a feet.
It’ll be all too easy for reviewers of my generation to get trapped in the ‘influences’ behind these songs …. but we aren’t the chosen demographic (although I’m now a fan and desperate to see this band play live) who will be under 30 and will play the ass out of these songs at home and/or on a more select jukebox in a bar somewhere on the dark side of town.

Released 17th February 2023


Emanuel Casablanca BLOOD ON MY HANDS

Emanuel Casablanca
Blood on my Hands 
Kings County Records

Bloody Hell! A Lavish Debut From a Most Talented, Generous, Prolific and Sanguinic New Bluesman

The late great Townes Van Zandt once said, “There are two kinds of music. The Blues, and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Emmanuel Casablanca’s debut LP, Blood on my Hands, sure as hell ain’t the latter.  

Brooklyn NY-based guitarist, singer & songwriter Casablanca brandishes his formidable talents for the first time as a front man, solo artist and bandleader with this impressive 16-track collection that draws sustenance from the thirsty roots of the fertile, rich soil of American Music.

At first glance, Blood on my Hands is literally drenched in blood. 
Tracks titled “Afraid of Blood,” “In Blood,” “Blood on my Hands,” “Bloodshot Eyes,” “Thicker Than Blood,” “Devil’s Blood” and “Blood Money” all penetrate to the core.
All heart.
The source. It is, at once, obvious that this record is ALIVE. 

Ancestry, lineage, line, bloodline, descent, parentage, family, house, dynasty, birth, extraction, derivation, origin, genealogy, heritage, breeding, stock, strain, pedigree, roots, kinship……All synonyms for BLOOD. Literally, life. The perfect metaphor for The Blues.

Steeped in tradition and flowing through deep layers of emotion, The Blues is a pulse.
A rhythm.
“Like A Pulse,” the fourth track on the record is the most organic, acoustic feeling in the collection.  This song reminds us that Emmanuel Casablanca can change up the feel but still remain in a groove that evokes profound feelings of loss and impassioned turmoil thanks to the intense, earnest guest vocals of Kat Riggins.

“Sunday Talks” grabbed me by the throat and held on. 
It feels like Jimi and highlights a less traditional blues groove while touching on the repetition of a gospel hymn with lush B3 organ and fuzz guitar, conjuring a psychedelic spell and pushing the listener head-on into an oncoming train with the next track, “Thicker Than Blood.” 
A wide-open refrain and guitar hook that wraps itself around your ears with throbbing, kick-ass drums.

“Anna Lee” is a welcome friend in the middle of the record that demonstrates Emmanuel’s ability to drip honey from his voice and tip his hat to his elders. The addition of the saxophone by Jimmy Carpenter swings this tune into a super-sweet and sonic space.

“Testify” jumps like a demon and “Devils Blood” drives like an angry hammer too.  Both songs are excellent examples of Casablanca’s abilities to musically convey hunger and yearning. 

“Blood Money” feels straight from the 70’s and packs a punch in a way that I might envision a more “metal” vibe to a Curtis Mayfield tune, which I must say, feels exciting. 

The last four tracks are less traditional and weave more texture via guitar distortion culminating in the heavy, driving vibe of “Rotten Pockets.” 
This track drags us through the mud and ends the record with the sound of thunder, the same way the record begins, signaling to the listener that Emmanuel Casablanca is about to take us on a journey through a storm.
An explosive  torrent and outpouring of musical cloudburst that runs in his veins and pours from his heart on this lavish debut from a most talented, generous, prolific and sanguinic new artist. 

*Emily and I agree that this is very much Emmanuel Casablanca’s album; but as you will see there are some stunning guests on here too …….

  1. Afraid of Blood
  2. In Blood (featuring Paul Gilbert)
  3. Blood On My Hands (featuring Eric Gales)
  4. Like A Pulse (featuring Kat Riggins & Sanga of The Valley)
  5. Bloodshot Eyes (featuring Albert Castiglia)
  6. Nashville (featuring Felix Slim)
  7. Sunday Talks
  8. Thicker Than Blood
  9. Anna Lee (featuring Jimmy Carpenter)
  10. Testify (featuring Brother Dave)
  11. Devil’s Blood (featuring Felix Slim)
  12. Blood Money
  13. Fantasies 
  14. My Nerves
  15. Shaky Tables
  16. Rottenpockets

Review by Emily Duff
Released 19th August 2022


Kirk Fletcher
Heartache By The Pound
Ogierea Records

Late Night Listening For Lovers Everywhere, From The Soulful End of The Blues Spectrum

In recent years the company who sent me this album have been sending more and more albums that Bluesy; but more notably Loud and Rocky; so this album sat on the desk unplayed and unloved for a couple of weeks.
Then after farming out the albums for the team to review there it was, looking up at me like Little Orphan Annie. So, into the office CD player it went ….. and within a minute I felt like I was having an epiphany of the musical kind!
That first song; Shine a Light On Love has more than a hint of both BB and Albert King about it for me to take it back to the start and hunt out the headphones so as not to be disturbed.
Kirk Fletcher has a voice like worn velvet and his guitar playing is pure liquid gold ….. just like the two Kings I mentioned earlier; and when the female backing singers cut in I was whisked back the days when the Old Grey Whistle Test would throw a random song like this into their weekly TV programme and change my world forever.
It turns out that this is the LA native’s seventh album and the Muscle Shoals production is all over it like a rash; with songs like The Night’s Calling You, Wrong Kind of Love and the title track Heartache By The Pound couldn’t have been recorded anywhere else; plus the pick of the litter session musicians aren’t here by accident either.
These songs are very much from the Soulful end of the Blues spectrum and destined for late night listening when either you’ve just fallen in love or broken a relationship; such is the cleverness in Fletcher’s writing; as many songs here can be interpreted in several ways …… listen carefully to the slinky Night By Myself or Wrong Kind of Love and tell me which they are; a ‘falling in love song’ or a ‘breakup song’.
On the other hand I Can’t Find No Love sounds exactly what you’d expect; it’s a Tearjerker Deluxe; and the type of 45 that teenage girls would wear out playing over and over and over again in their bedrooms. (I’m out of touch…. does that still happen with downloads and Spotify?)
There are so many singers I can compare Kirk Fletchers’ vocals too; but what’s the point? He sounds like his larynx is soaked in honey and the way he delivers his words you believe 100% that he means what he’s singing …. not least on another tearjerker; Hope For Us which may be a love song about a significant other or more likely; a love song for the world we find ourselves in in 2022 ….. and is sure to be the closer at his gigs.
That leaves two very different songs for me to choose my Favourite between; and again I can picture being a young man and hearing both on the radio and simply ‘having to buy them ASAP‘ ……. the powerful Afraid to Die, Too Scared to Live is very much a song ‘of our times’ and has the hallmark of a man who has lived the words in the story (which I’m not going to spoil… but the title tells you a lot).
The other is the most uptempo song here and a veritable Soul Stomper; the type we’d associate with Otis Redding at his best; but Wildcat Tamer is a Tarheel Slim song from 1959 that I’ve never heard before and deserves this funky makeover.
I seem to have spent the last few weeks listening to a lot of folky singer-songwriters with the occasional Alt. Country band thrown in for good measure; but Kirk Fletcher and HEARTACHE BY THE POUND has been a real antidote and been my ‘go to album’ at the end of the day ….. and I think it could be for you to.

Released July 29th 2022


Kat Riggins PROGENY

Kat Riggins
Gulf Coast Records

Contemporary Soul That Rocks Until The Blues Squeezes Out.

This is a bit of an oddity as the first time I played PROGENY I struggled to get my head around it; as it’s a completely new direction for Kat Riggins; then I closed my mind to what I ‘thought’ she should sound like; and as if by magic; the songs entered not just my Soul but my heart too.
The next step; as usual to finally read the Press Release ….. AHA!
This is Ms. Riggins’ second album on Gulf Coast Records, home of its founder Mike Zito who not only shows what a thoughtful producer he is; but has assembled a stellar cast of his friends to support Kat Riggins amazing voice and her incisive songs too.
What concerned my initially was the crunchy guitars that play a major part throughout; and start with opening track Walk On; but given time the combination works a treat; with Kat now treading a fine line between Nu-Soul and Blues Rock …. that works a lot better than you’d expect.
The fire and brimstone in that song is summed up in a couple of lines:
Places to go
People to see
I just can’t keep still
So let me walk on!
I’m gonna claim my spot
and take my seat,
I might throw my weight around;
Because the kitchen aint never too hot for me
Baby my time is now!”

Yeop; this is a powerful Blues Rocker that will have ladies of all persuasions shouting along and bellowing out “Ain’t that the truth sister!
There’s a sensitive claustrophobic feel to a couple of songs too; as Kat digs deeper than I’ve ever known before; and Mike Zito really adds a special ‘zing’ not just with his guitar; but in the control room too; I’m thinking of the punchy Warriors and Cross the Line; but the more I hear it, the dark ballad Mama could easily be included too.
Kat Riggins’ existing fan base are sure to love this album; but with Zito at the helm and the team at Gulf Coast Records at the helm; there’s plenty hear to crossover into the Blues and Blues Rock territories with Sinking Low and the sassy 40 25 40 being perfect for radio stations in those idioms.
Not everything here has sparks coming off the guitar strings; there are also a couple of stunningly beautiful ballads in here too, with the bittersweet Got To Be God being an absolute heartbreaker of the finest order.
Over the years I’ve know a few Rock acts try to ‘get down wif da kids’ by including a bit of Rap in a song or two; and invariably it doesn’t work; but in the electrifying My City, someone called Busta Free seamlessly slides in and out half way through; and it works a damn sight better than it should (for once!).
While the album itself surprised me; there are plenty of surprises within that surprise to show the diversity that Kat Riggins possesses ….. none more so than right in the middle when Kat delivers a stunning Gospel a cappella Walk With Me Lord only accompanied by twittering birdsong; and when the crunchy guitars of Promised Land; sequenced immediatly afterwards; I can easily imagine the light show and fireworks that would happen in concert.
Another big surprise is the bouncy story of Kat’s family in the jaunty and Honky-Tonky It’s In My Blood, which sounded out of place at one stage; but eventually grew on my so much I regularly find myself singing along to the chorus!
Now; for my Favourite Track I’m torn between two absolute belters; Woahman, which is a cry for womankind the world over and will surely become a cornerstone of any and all gigs in the near future.
As a songwriter I think Kat Riggins surpasses herself with the other of my Favourites; as Espresso is such a clever and thoughtful song, with Kat comparing ‘being in love’ with the “buzz you get from drinking espresso!”
As I say; this is a bit of a change in direction for this fantastic Soul Singer; but not dangerously so as both her voice and her words are well suited to the Rocky backdrop that Mike Zito has created for and with her.

Released 24th June 2022


Robert Cray Band at O2 NEWCASTLE CITY HALL

Robert Cray Band
O2 City Hall
Friday 6th May 2022

Unlike many of my peers; I’m not as enthralled with ‘live music’ these days as I should be … and that’s not just a Post-Covid ‘thing;’ as I felt the same way three or more years ago.
To some degrees it’s a health ‘thing’ as I’m no longer able to stand for three or more hours; so the opportunity to not just see Robert Cray and visit the newly revamped City Hall; which was my ‘go to’ venue as a young man was a night that couldn’t be missed.
We were still looking for our seats when the support act appeared on stage and if my eyes didn’t deceive me; it was Welsh duo …. Zervas & Pepper!
Last seen at the SummerTyne Festival 4 or 5 years ago; they immediately seemed a strange choice as support; but the knowledgeable audience instantly fell in love with their style of Laurel Canyon drenched Americana.
Opening with Living In a Small Town that led into the really rather good Silver To Chrome; which had a punchy Folk Rock edge to it.
Without pointing fingers; I think it’s fair to say that the ‘soundman’ didn’t do them any favours tonight; with Paul Zervas rich voice regularly being pushed down in the mix and Kathryn Pepper’s sounding too ‘toppy’ at times ….. thankfully I could see through this and know what great voices they both have …. and when they harmonise; as they do on Look Out Mountain and The Gift; I defy anyone to not be cast their memories back to the halcyon days of Laurel Canyon in all its pomp.
While I recognised a few songs from their Abstract Heart album; they slid in a new song from an imminent album; and the intense White Flag; with its power chords certainly piqued my attention for its release.
As is our won’t we went to the bar at the intermission; and my Brother decided that it must be his ’round’ and ordered two pints of very average and too cold beer in plastic glasses; and nearly had to take an extra tablet when told they would cost £6.75 each!!!!!
Back in the main hall and standing at the front ready to take photos; the band wandered onto the stage in pitch darkness; then on the drummer’s count slid seamlessly into Nothin’ But Love and the scene was set for a fabulous evening of super smooth Soul infused Blues of the highest order.
The first of several surprises was hearing Phone Booth so early in the set; and my notes say ‘full of horny bass lines’ and ‘CooooLLL’ which I still standby those words today.
I can’t list all 20 songs from the set, obviously but we had a delirious mix of Soul Shuffles, majestically moody Blues Ballads and more than enough searing Bluesy Soft Rockers to satisfy even the tardiest of music fans.
After all these years I’d forgot what a great singing voice Robert Cray has; sliding through a range that belies his age on the heartbreakingly sleazy The Things You Do To Me and You Move Me Baby too.
I think of Robert, first and foremost as a guitarist; yet my brother had never heard of him …. strange you might think; but Robert Cray has always flown under the radar …. and suffice to say, Brother Brian was a convert after only three songs.
Speaking of which; in the grand pantheon of Great Blues Guitarists Cray rarely, if ever gets a mention; yet tonight (and not for the first time either) he made his assortment of Fender Stratocasters’, not just weep and cry but scream at times tonight ….. and as for ‘innovative’ …. man; this guy knows no boundaries.
Again; as Brian pointed out afterwards…. this wasn’t just a showcase for the Star; it actually felt like a total band effort; with Les Falconer on drums and Richard Cousins’ ‘less is more’ style of bass playing certainly held everything together like a copper weld; but the legendary (in my head!) Dover Weinberg on Hammond very nearly ‘stole the show’ such was his fabulous playing and ever present smile.
Just so many ….. but a couple of new songs to me really caught my attention; The Shiver was haunting and really showed what an amazing guitar player Cray is; and the playful Roadhouse Blues of Hot featured some extraordinary guitar playing; yet Cray himself is the opposite of flash!
Oh yes!
Right in the middle of the show You Had My Heart; a great song in itself featured some serious tub-thumping from Les Falconer as well as Cray sounding like he was stabbing at the guitar strings while his voice dropped an octave or two …. you had to be there.
With so much to choose from his own back catalogue Robert even gave us an amazing cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s slow and intensely sensitive The Soul of a Man in which every single second was filled to the max.
The set was bookended with Cray’s other ‘hit’ …. Right Next Door, which was a bit ‘heavier’ than I’ve heard before, and somehow ….. all the better for that; then they ‘closed the show’ with a no holds barred You Must Believe In Yourself.
Cray and band mates then thanked the crowd and left the stage ……. Bizarrely; after all these years adults around us were wondering out loud whether they would come back for an encore.
Sure enough, after the obligatory minute in the wings … back they came for two stunning songs ; the darkly smoky Forecast Calls (for Pain) and the sultry Time Makes Two with another playful false ending; then to a deserved standing ovation they were gone into the Spring night.


Eliza Neals
Badder To The Bone
E-H Records

A Challenging Move On Through the Dark Shadows of The Blues That Hits All The Right Spots

There’s an element of guilt attached to this review; as Eliza promoted its release a couple of days ago; for me to make a sarcastic response as I hadn’t received a copy …. to whit she DM’d me immediately stating she’d posted a CD several weeks previously!
Any hoot; a download arrived within the hour so all’s well, that ends well ….. even if was being a bit huffy.
Was my wait worth it?
Hell yes!
Taking a massive leap forward from the BLACK CROW MOAN album, Eliza spreads her talents far and wide; even challenging herself at times across the Blues gamut here; starting with the Diddleyesque United We Stand; which has the hallmarks of a rocking good ‘protest song’ the likes of which most rockers shy away from; but Ms. Neals always wears her heart on her sleeve and damn the consequences.
This is immediately followed by some low down and bittersweet Soulful Blues with the heartwrenching ballad Queen of the Night; which features the subtle touches of Lance Lopez on geetar and Lynard Skynyrd’s Peter Keys on actual ‘keys’ making for an intense love song that comes in just shy of 7 minutes long; but has your attention for every single second.
There’s plenty of power chords and riffs a’plenty throughout; made all the better by Eliza and her co-writer’s strong storytelling; most astutely on King Kong, the Rustic Rocker that is Fuelling Me Up and the emotionally charged and slowed down retake of Queen of The Nile II, which closes the album and like the best gigs; leaves you wanting ‘more… more …. more!’
In between there are some really adventurous moves from Eliza; Lockdown Love is as sexy as it’s sleazy with the lady switching between purrs and growls like a she-cat on heat; leaving the male of the species listening sweating and a little bit scared!
Heathen takes us on yet another left of centre journey as Ms Neals taps into her S.O.U.L on Heathen which finds her hitting notes I had no idea were in her range; but when she hits them; they know they’ve been hit!
As usual I hadn’t read the Press Release or even the tracklisting when I first played this album; so it was probably a minute or so into it that I recognised Can’t Find My Way Home; the Blind Faith missive which has been a personal favourite for 50 years now ….. and while she plays around with the melody and tempo; plus the addition of Lance Lopez’s trademarked dirty geetar licks; makes for a really special version that will impress fans old and new.
This a Blues album; so it’s no surprise to find at least one ‘cheating’ song on it; and here the toe-tapping Hammond melody and guitar riffs camouflage the fear her man should have from ‘this woman done wronged‘ Got a Gun …… which had me going “Oh! Yikes!” the first time I heard the chorus.
For my selection of Favourite Track I initially made a notation next to Fueling Me Up, as it;s a great song with some mighty powerful musicianship all around that keeps you tuned in so as not to miss a note or syllable; but in the last 48 hours I’ve been drawn to the ‘Power Ballad’ Bucket of Tears ….. for no particularly personal reason; just that it’s a ‘grower’ that took my unawares maybe four plays of the album in ….. which impressed me a lot.
Even though her voice is as distinctive as ever; making this a recognisable Eliza Neals album and pleased to tell you it’s a thrilling move on from her last two albums; and hints at some fantastic gigs in the near future.

Released 23rd April 2022


Dan Patlansky BAD SOUL (Single)

Dan Patlansky
Bad Soul (Single)

South African blues rock guitarist Dan Patlansky will release his new single “Bad Soul” and it’s accompanying music video today; Friday March 18th
The single and music video dovetails his upcoming UK tour with his special guest Arielle, which runs from March 31st until April 12th

Tickets available from 

Southampton, 1865
Thursday 31 March 2022

Norwich, Waterfront Arts
Friday 1 April 2022

Newcastle, The Cluny
Saturday 2 April 2022
Glasgow, Òran Mór    
Sunday 3 April 2022

Sheffield, Greystones
Tuesday 5 April 2022
Bristol, Exchange
Wednesday 6 April 2022

Leeds, Brudenell
Friday 8 April 2022
*Manchester,  Deaf Institute
Saturday 9 April 2022

Leek, Foxlowe Arts
Sunday 10 April 2022
London, Garage
Tuesday 12 April 2022