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Jay Jesse Johnson Band: Down The Hard Road

Of all the bluesmen out there, the triple J Jay Jesse Johnson is one whose touch and tone sets him apart. This is a guitarist who can hit hard, he can slide and glide and he can soothe and caress. Everything this guitarist touches has a flow, an ease and a way of simply inviting you in for rip roaring good time. However the JJJ Band isn't just a one man show, bassist Reed Bogart bringing a real authority to the bottom end as drummer Jeff "Smokey" Donaldson nails every beat down hard and safe, just enough excitement to keep you tuned in, but these men are all about keeping it tight and keeping it right. Add in Lee Evans who brings the colour of the keys and this band is ready, steady and firing on all cylinders all the time.

Johnson is a man who also possesses a true blues voice. Full of story, full of character, full of good times and dripping with authenticity. This is the voice of experience and he's willing to share. And that's exactly what he does, as we head Down The Hard Road. Although to Jay's great credit, he's already put the hard yards in, the tough miles already behind this man as he invites you instead to draw up a chair and relive the memories he so evocatively lays down. With Jimmy D Rogers adding the tonk that honks behind the piano on "Beer Bottle Blues" and doing likewise on "Drive Me Home", where it's a more melancholic lilt he lends, the variety of moods is broad indeed. However it's the fluidity of the fret flurries that leave the deepest impression, JJJ's ability and willingness to steal the show in the least flashy of fashions what makes each and every selection on this album the joy it is. Whether through the searing melancholy of "The Blues Is A Damn Sad Thing", or the crying howl of guitar that plays off the sax of Jim Norcross on "Anyway The Wind Blows", not only are the guitar incursions pinpoint accurate and able to burrow in deep, but the overall atmosphere they and the rest of this ensemble create just sound so natural and unforced that you can't help but be swept along.

There are plenty guys running up and down their frets quicker, harder and more forcefully than Jay Jesse Johnson and yet few make the mark he does here. Proof that being a master of the guitar arts isn't about technique over feel, or flash over tenderness, it's all about putting time in Down The Hard Road. Rest assured that's exactly what the Jay Jesse Johnson Band do every time you encounter them.

Track Listing
1. Down The Hard Road
2. Anyway The Wind Blows
3. The Blues Is A Damn Sad Thing
4. Born Under A Bad Sign
5. Drive Me Home
6. Tears Of The Angels
7. Guilty Of The Blues
8. Bull In The Barn
9. Beer Bottle Blues
10. The Messiah Will Come Again

Added: February 24th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Down The Hard Road @ The Grooveyard
Hits: 1591
Language: english

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