Saturday, September 12, 2015

Omar Coleman Born and Raised

On his initial Delmark release Born and Raised, Omar Coleman impresses with soul-infused vocals, and harp playing that perhaps evokes both the folk-funk of Bobby Rush, and the soul-blues fusion of the late Junior Wells (both who he admits are influences). He is backed by a solid band of Pete Galanis on guitar; Neal O'Hara on keyboards; Ari Seder on bass and Marty Binder on drums and percussion with guitarists Toronzo Cannon, Mike Wheeler and David Herrero each guesting on two selections. Coleman wrote (or co-wrote) 12 of the 14 songs here.

Its a varied mix of material starting with the opening rocker Tryin' to Do Right where he sings about trying to do right by his lady even though he wants to do wrong through the closing Raspberry Wine with its jazzy accents. His songs and his performances convey a man who is sensitive and strong. He sings you don't need a man like him, you need a Man Like Me, (with Cannon adding some guitar fire). Coleman is a strong, yet nuanced, singer convincing whether delivered with soulful blues of Man Like Me; the funk of Sit Down Baby and the topical title track; the wistful ballad, I Was a Fool; the driving rocker Slow Down Baby; the shuffle You Got a Hold On Me, as well as the afore-mentioned Raspberry Wine," which suggests that he could do a solid job as a blues shouter.

Besides Coleman's persuasive vocals, his straight-forward harp playing has much appeal with its fluidity and voice-like character. He also has written some fresh new songs that is crisply played resulting in some marvelous performances making Omar Coleman's Born and Raised one of the most striking blues albums of 2015 so far.

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here he is performing the title track live at Rosa's Lounge.

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