Chris Vachon, Roomful of Blues' guitarist for the past 25+ years who also has co-produced their last 10 albums, alerted me to this group and project he is part of that he recorded, mixed and mastered. The rest of this group is Ed Wright, a solid blue-eyed soulful vocalist and bassist; Jeff Ceasrine on keyboards, and Larr Anderson on drums. Also heard are The Naked Horns on several tracks, Mike Rand on harmonica for a couple selections, Brenda Bennett who contributes a lead vocal on one selection, and sundry other musicians and backing vocals.
Much of this is in a soul-blues vein and showcases Wright's strong singing stands out especially on an surprising cover of Bill Withers' "Grandma Hands" that also has solid vocal backing from The Gospel Love Notes (and crisp Vachon guitar fills). If that is perhaps the standout track, his renditions of the O.V. Wright classic "I'd Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy," the George Jackson penned Ann Pebbles;' gem "Slipped Tripped And Fell In Love," or Syl Johnson's soul stomper "I Only Have Love." Wright and the horn augmented band give a gritty rendition of Bobby Bland's "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)."
Several other numbers have more of roots-rock flavor including a strong take on Bobby Charles' "Why Are People Like That," a rockabilly-flavored rendition of a Willie Dixon's "I Love the Life I Live," and the closing "It's All Over Now," that is based on Bobby Womack's 1997 recording, not The Valentinos' original from the sixties. They complement the deep soul performances with some very fine playing throughout, and excellent production, that make for a very appealing recording for blues and soul fans.
I received my review copy from Chris Vachon. This review appeared in the September-October 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 374). Here is a video of them performing "I Wouldn't Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)."