The music that greets you as this CD starts spinning with the opening bars of "Done With the Devil" heralds what promises to be a great album of blues rock – it immediately brought to my mind some of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac great music before he left that band to metamorphosise itself – and, thankfully, that promise is amply fulfilled in the music that is to follow. Jason Ricci & New Blood's second album of blues rock should satisfy all fans of the genre.
The CD comes with the most intriguing sleeve notes that I have ever read – a full three pages from Jason – which is informative not only with respect to the music and its origins, but also to the psyche of the man himself. (Along with the promo distribution notes come another four A4 pages of autobiography!). Clearly, Jason has had some life difficulties in the past and his music has been a way almost of rehabilitating himself with the world. Having begun to tour with hopeful musicians, he slowly found and gathered together the excellent ones that form the New Blood band: Todd "Buck Weed" Edmunds (tuba, electric and double bass, vocals); Shawn Starski (electric, acoustic, dobro guitars and vocals); Ed Michaels (drums, vocals); Rudy Miller (drums, percussion). Another musician making a major impact on the Done With the Devil CD is Phillip Wolfe (piano, Hammond organ), who also produced, mixed and engineered the disc.
The band's first album, Rocket Number 9 reached #4 on the Billboard Blues chart, this despite Jason's concerns that the style of blues he has to offer isn't "pure". Well, it isn't – it is full of other influences – what one might call blues played by progressive thinking musicians – but it is undeniably always bluesy, courtesy in particular of some fine harmonica playing and singing from Jason himself. The CD sleeve notes themselves refer to the fact that Jason only began to get the recognition he sought from other recognised blues musicians when he and the band developed sufficient confidence to start creating their own music, true to their own spirit. So, blues rock it is, but Jason Ricci & New Blood style!
The music is, in any case, sufficiently good to rise above the triviality of exact genre definition. Specific artists that I'm familiar with that came to my mind, in addition to Peter Green, were Southside Johnny and James Brown, and that was even before Jason sets off on a wonderful harmonica improvisation of "My Favourite Things" (from the Sound of Music film, music by Richard Rodgers) right in the middle of "Afro Blue", which the band then picks up on to great effect! I'm certain that keen followers of the genre could identify many more artists whose memory is rekindled by this music.
Particular highlights on here include the opening track "Done With the Devil", where Ricci's excellent harmonica really stamps its authority, not just on the song but on the album, such is its effect. Elsewhere, "Sweet Loving" has a lilting rhythm to match the title and some fancy Hammond from Wolfe; "Holler for Craig Lawler" has a super funky groove; "Broken Toy", not just for the lyrical harmonica on the intro and the sweet guitar to follow, but also for the heartfelt personal lyrics from Ricci; the "poppier" feel of "Ptryptophan Pterodactyl" which offsets the seriousness of "Broken Toy"; the punkier blues rock of "I Turned Into a Martian"; - hey, I'm talking about every track here! Anyway, you get the picture! There's jazzy and folky feels yet to come, along with the aforementioned wonderful take on the Sound of Music. But, through it all is that blues, slow or fast, that undeniable blues, that great harmonica and a tasty, husky blues vocal that shows that yes! - a white man CAN sing the blues!
1) Done With the Devil (5:11)
2) Sweet Loving (3:48)
3) Holler for Craig Lawler (6:48)
4) Broken Toy (5:56)
5) Ptryptophan Pterodactyl (4:13)
6) I Turned Into a Martian (3:07)
7) As Long as I Have You (5:21)
8) How It Came to Be (3:43)
9) Life of Denial (3:52)
10)Afro Blue (8:56)
11) Keep the Wolf From My Door (5:41)
12) Enlightenment (4:44)