Rollin' With It
John McNamara is an Australian whose music took him to Beale Street, not simply because he competed at the International Blues Challenge, but because the influence of soul and blues that can be heard in his music. His new album was recorded in Memphis at the Ardent Studios and found the singer, songwriter and guitarist backed by such Memphis studio stalwarts as drummer Steve Potts; bassist James Kinard; guitarist Michael Toles; and keyboardist Lester Snell (who did the arrangements) along with a strong horn section. McNamara wrote six of the ten songs. along with his renditions of songs associated with Bobby Bland, Otis Redding and Little Willie John.
McNamara impresses as a singer as well as guitarist from the opening "One, Two Of A Kind," that evokes the brassy Memphis sound with his soulful, natural sounding singing and biting guitar set against the horn riffs. The idiomatic originals and choice covers continue with "Bad Reputation" delivered in his slightly whisky parched singing, whose musical structure is a cousin to "Fever," and a lyric of ignoring his reputation as he is "all about loving you." There is the slow, moody "Under The Weight Of The Moon," as he laments about laying awake about being without her, with very apt backing.
The covers are straight-forward and delivered in a relaxed fashion ranging from the Bobby Bland classic soul ballad "Ask Me Nothing (But About the Blues)," to an Otis Redding Stax classic "Security," another strong Bobby Bland cover "Blind Man" (that Little Milton also covered five decades ago) and the closing rendition of Little Willie John's "Suffering With the Blues." With heartfelt singing and the handsome arrangements, McNamara displays not simply his love of the music that influenced him but how ably he interprets these classic songs in addition to his marvelous originals. One gets impressed by his strong performances on a striking new recording to delight fans of sixties-seventies Memphis soul and blues.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here John performs "Ask Me Nothing (But About the Blues)."