Born in Vermont and raised on blues and country, singer-guitarist Jake Lear has spent the last three years honing his blues and roots sound in Memphis. He has a new self-released CD Diamonds and Stones, that brings together plenty of grit, stinging guitar and driving rhythm section on a program of mostly original songs. On this release he is backed by drummer, Roy Cunningham and bassist, Carlos Arias. Cunningham was a member of the Bar-Kays, a STAX studio drummer and drummed for Albert King, Little Milton and Little Jimmy King.
Lear performs in a pretty direct fashion with some nice stinging guitar which to these ears suggests the late Magic Slim. Vocally, he has a gravelly voice with hints of Bob Dylan and his songs are pretty simple, straight-ahead numbers with a touch of the North Mississippi Hills in the grooves here, particularly the slow burning title song and Going Back Home (North Mississippi Bound). Cunningham lays down a driving, funk groove for Down By The River, while on Lear’s arrangement of the traditional Jack O’ Diamonds, might suggest early John Lee Hooker with Lear’s effective guitar work. Work, Work, Work, with a driving boogie guitar and groove, is a lively reworking (as opposed to a rehashed copy) of the Ricky Allen recording Cut You Loose. This ten song recording concludes with a driving instrumental Boogie Time.
There is nothing fancy or complicated about the music on Diamonds and Stones. Jake Lear is a good singer and the simplicity of his approach has definite appeal as evidenced by this recording.