On his initial Delmark release "Born and Raised," singer 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.
There is a varied mix of material from 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 performances convey a man who is both sensitive and strong as he sings that you don't need a man like him, you need a "Man Like Me," (with Cannon adding some guitar fire). Coleman is a forceful, yet nuanced, singer and is convincing whether delivering the soulful "Man Like Me"; the funky "Sit Down Baby" and topical title track; the wistful ballad, "I Was a Fool"; the driving "Slow Down Baby"; the shuffle "You Got a Hold On Me," and the afore-mentioned "Raspberry Wine." In fact, "Raspberry Wine" suggests that Coleman would be terrific as a standup blues shouter.
Besides Coleman's persuasive vocals, his straight-forward harp playing appeals with its fluidity and voice-like character. Coleman has written fresh new blues songs that are crisply played resulting in these marvelous performances. "Born and Raised" is one of the most striking recent blues recordings of 2015.
I received my review copy from Delmark. Here he performs "Trying to Do Right."