Best known as guitarist/producer with country giant Dwight Yoakam, Pete Anderson actually has roots in blues growing up in Detroit and while he has flourished producing and playing with other roots artists, he has finally done a blues-centered album, “Even Things Up,” which was originally a limited edition and recently reissued with four new recordings as a deluxe Edition (Little Dog Records/VizzTone). Playing harmonica and drums on one track in addition to some vocals, he is joined by Michael Murphy on keyboards and accordion and others including Bekka Bramlett on one vocal.
This writer is not familiar with the prior release, but this opens up with a rocker, “ Honky Tonk Girl,” that one could easily see done as a country rocker, but he does provide a bluesier spin along with some energetic twisting twangy guitar that captures the spotlight along with his enthusiastic vocal. The appealing chicken-scratching instrumental “Booker Twine” has a funky groove might be a tribute to the classic Booker T and the MGs Stax recordings, while “That’s How Trouble Starts” is a driving number with credible singing, and some stunning guitar (sounds like he is playing lap steel guitar). Kudos to Herman Matthews’ lively guitar here.
Anderson adds some nice harmonica to the musical stew on the title track before showcasing his imaginative and spicy fretwork. “ Wes’ Side Blues,” is a lively, instrumental with an enticing latin flavor and punchy horns, while and “Dogbone Shuffle” (named after the Burbank, CA studio this was recorded at), is another intriguing instrumental. Two takes of “Still in Love,” are included with a low-key vocal by Anderson and a vocal Bekka Bramlett that takes one to church. On “110 in the Shade, Anderson eschews a band and provides nice country-blues styled guitar and accompaniment to his vocal. This new edition of the release also includes two live performances.
Anderson is an effective vocalist but his vocals are not his strength. Those who have heard his work with Yoakam and others will not be surprised by his tone, chops nor his musical imagination on a most entertaining disc.
A publicist for this release provided the review copy.