Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lew Jetton & 61 South Rain

Lew Jetton & 61 South
Coffee Street Records

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Lou Jetton and his band 61 South brings a new audio gumbo mix of southern rock, blues and other roots elements to his latest recording "Rain," one of the most appealing recent blues-rock roots efforts this individual has heard recently.

One can hear such influences as the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Little Feat and others on this set where the Tennessee-born Jetton is backed by his regular lineup of Sam Moore on guitar, Dan Bell on keyboards as guitar, Otis Walker and James Sullivan on bass and Erik Eicholtz on drums. Guests here include thumbpicking guitarist Alonzo Pennington; keyboard player Solon Smith; backup singer Miranda Louise; and harmonica player J.D. Wilkes.

The album takes it title likely from the three very different numbers than contain rain in their title, but in addition to this there are typical themes of broken relationships and hopes for better times. The opening number, "Who's Texting You," an amusing contemporary song about cheating through the cell phone, showcases Jetton's appeal as a singer as well as being able to lay down well shaped solos that complement agreeable, grainy singing and his amusing lyrics. He rock and rolls things on "Move On Yvonne," with harmonica and Miranda Louise adding her short vocal, and a rollicking piano break, followed by the urgency of his vocal on "Mississippi Rain," hsa swampy tremolo guitar and an insistent groove while he sings about the heavy rain and thunder and how things one knows will never be the same.

"Lay Me Down" is a soulful southern rock ballad evocative of Eric Clapton and is followed by a country gospel boogie "Glory Train," and then a very nice rendition of John Hiatt's "Feel Like Rain." The southern rock groove and vocal "Done Done It" sounds like it would be home on Country Music Television, while there is one nice acoustic guitar that is part of the easy going rocker "Sandy Lee." "Keeping Me Awake" is a hot rocking shuffle which leads to an excellent rendition of Allen Toussaint's "It's Raining." With only piano accompaniment, Jetton's baritone is quite moving in this wonderful performance. It closes a very enjoyable album of varied musical grooves and blues moods.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here is Lew Jetton performing "Feels Like Rain."

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