Sunday, September 07, 2008

Kilburn Alley Blues Fresh Yet With Strong Roots

Blues Music Award nominees, The Kilburn Alley Blues Band, want to Tear Chicago Down, the title of their new Blue Bella release. Produced by Nick Moss, the focus on this band is on the ensemble, and as James Walker's notes emphasize the songs here are not guitar-hero, guitar solo driven. The band is comprised of singer-guitarist Andrew Duncanson; guitarist Josh Stimmel; harp player Joe Asselin; bassist Chris Breen and drummer Ed O’Hara. Producer Moss and Gary Hundt enhance several tracks as well. The playing is terrific throughout and Duncanson is a strong vocalist. All the songs are originals with plenty of variety in tone and style. The title track is a funky burner with Abraham Johnson joining Duncanson on the vocal; Fire With Fire is a torrid shuffle with some terrific harp throughout by Asselin; while Crazier Things is a strong performance that evokes the classic Muddy Waters ensemble with Hundt’s mandolin effectively supporting and Stimmel’s slide work is styled in the fashion of Muddy’s classic sound. The longest track is the slow blues, It’s a Pity, evokes Junior Wells’ treatment of Early in the Morning as Duncanson playing brilliantly in the vein of the Buddy Guy back in the sixties and harpist Asselin adds fills behind the vocal as well as takes a tough solo. Lay It Down places new lyrics to the melody of Little Walter’s recording, Mellow Down Easy. Asselin wails on his solo and the rhythm section of Breen and O’Hara gets a tight groove rocking and never lets it go. Come Home Soon and The Weight of You are more in the soul vein with Duncanson singing capably in a Sam Cooke vein on the latter. Like producer Nick Moss’s own recordings, this album captures the sound of the classic Chicago blues of the fifties and sixties with the members own take. They play inspired and are far removed from those that slavishly copy the old masters as well as the one-dimensional guitar-rockers. Highly recommended.

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