Guitarist Michael Lee Firkins has been quietly releasing albums since 1990, when his self-titled debut appeared on Shrapnel. And he's still going strong, playing with his fingers (not a pick) and taking liberties with the tremolo bar (making it sound as if he's playing a slide guitar). Perfect examples of this style include the funky country-and-western vibe of "The Horse and The Fly," the thick blues-rock fusion of "Two Guns Left," and "Now's Your Time Blues," a smokin' track that sounds as if it could have been recorded decades ago. We probably don't need another version of "Black Betty," but Firkins makes up for that by including a fattened-up run-through of Quincy Jones' "Theme from Sanford and Son (The Streetbeater)."
All but one of the nine songs on the primarily instrumental Blacklight Sonatas are performed by a trio, although Firkins' playing often makes it sound like a larger ensemble. And while the album could benefit from a little more diversity, Firkins never sounds bored — which means listeners won't be, either.
1) One Big Punch (Crying Stacks)
2) Two Guns Left
3) Black Betty
4) I-680 Waltz
5) The Horse and The Fly
6) Now's Your Time Blues
7) Theme From Sanford and Son (The Streetbeater)
8) Took the Words Right Outta My Mouth
9) Blacklight Sonata