Michael Powers received much acclaim for his Onyx Root recording with his interesting take on the blues mixed in with some psychedelic rock. His latest Baryon release, Prodigal Son, starts off as it will be more a rock vein with the opening over-the-top rocked out rendition of Freddie King’s recording of Goin’ Down. I find the next number, It’s a Bloody Life, a bit more to my taste with an appealing raspy vocal,an intriguing mix of acoustic and electric guitar in the backing and a hint of John Lee Hooker’s influence.
The title track benefits from not being cranked up as Power updates the biblical tale. White Lightning is an strong funky number while Wild Side has Powers rocking out again before Powers evokes Bruce Springsteen vein for the reflective Every Grain of Sand. Lay the Hootch is another rocking number with some nice piano followed by the fast walking tempo of Oh John, with a nice buzzing guitar solo, followed by a some rock flavor on Signed D.C., as he sings “That nobody cares, nobody cares, for me.”
Compassion is an attractive acoustic instrumental with a tinge of country-folk flavor that suggests Powers musical influences are very broad indeed and followed by a bit of hokum on You Got To Go Down, with a bit of skiffle feel with some nice acoustic guitar from Powers and a washboard in the backing, followed by a rousing rendition of the Tiny Bradshaw’s The Train kept a Rollin, perhaps channeled through Aerosmith more than Johnny Burnette.
If one was going to call this a strong rock record I would not argue. At the same time, there is more than enough here of a blues nature to also describe this as a fine blues recording with some nice rock flavoring and if I find the hard rock moments the least appealing to these ears, I won’t dispute there is plenty of gold to be heard here.
This review originally appeared in the newsletter of the DC Blues Society, the DC Blues Calendar in March 2007. I received the review copy from either the record label or a publicist.