Lauritsen impresses on this marvelously varied group of performances. One would be surprised listening to him sing to discover English is not his first language. He sings in a natural,relaxed fashion and the supporting musicians do a bang-up job in backing him on some nice covers and originals. William Bell’s Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday starts this recording off on a nice southern soul vein followed by the Crescent City groove on Lauritsen’s original Next Time, with zydeco flavor provided by the leader’s accordion with Wainwright taking a rollicking piano solo. Te title track is a nice slow blues with Josh Roberts adding slide guitar. Billy Gibbons on harp joins Lauritsen on a easy rocking shuffle rendition of Walter Horton’s Need My Babe, taken as a medium shuffle which is followed by Wainwright’s Memphis Boogie, that he gets off to a rollicking start followed by Roberts crisp solo and then more boogie woogie piano before the leader steps up.
We are taken back to New Orleans on Big Joe Maher’s Ever Since The World Began, which then followed up by a fine take on the Cookie and the Cupcakes swamp pop classic Mathilda. Like the rest of this recording, it is wonderfully played and sung at the right tempo. Anson Funderburgh adds strong guitar to Find My Little Girl as Lauritsen sings about going back to Dallas, Texas to find his little girl while plays rhythm guitar on the atmospheric take on Gillian Welch’s Valley of Tears.
The performances on Play By The Rules never come off as hurried or frantic and there is a genuine soulful quality to J.T. Lauritsen’s vocals that make this release well worth noting.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video of J.T. Lauritsen.