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Order these featured albums today:

Nalani Rothrock

Ally Venable

Bob Corritore and Friends

Nick Schnebelen

John Primer

Savoy Brown

Steve Hill

Kurt Allen

Gayle Harrod Band

Achilles Tenderloin

Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia

Scott Ellison



Nalani RothrockThe Rock House Sessions (Jolani Music Group) is the debut LP from Nashville-based singer Nalani Rothrock. To say that this nine-song collection is decent is a vast understatement. It's astonishingly good, from one of the best new singers I've heard in a long while. The release date appears to have been at the very tail end of 2022, and I can say that if these songs had come my way before the end of the year, The Rock House Sessions would have ranked very highly on my Top Ten list for the year.

The album was produced by Kevin McKendree, who also contributed keyboards to the session. Ms. Rothrock is backed by her co-writer and partner Joshua Lamkin who plays some mean guitar throughout. All songs were written by Rothrock and Lamkin, with McKendree getting co-writer credit on the opening song.

What's unique about this music is that every song has elements of blues, jazz, soul, country, and pop, all seamlessly blending together. There's no song that could be identified as strictly blues or soul or jazz, but it's all mixed together to make a delightful pot of musical gumbo.

The opener, "Every Time I Close My Eyes," has a touch more blues mixed in, also ending with a big heap of gospel feeling while Lamkin turns in some hot blues licks on guitar. Rothrock sings about the memories of that missing love, with her voice soaring as the song progresses. "Fool For You" is a slower, jazzy number that is one of two cuts that I could imagine being on an Amy Winehouse album 15 years ago. It starts with limited instrumentation, mainly acoustic guitar, before the tempo picks up when Andrew Carney comes in with tasty muted trumpet.

"Just Before I Go" ups the tempo on a rocker that also gets into a soul anthem vibe, especially as Rothrock's voice soars through the octaves. The other song that could have come from the Amy Winehouse songbook is the slow, jazzy soul tune, "Hold On," with the star of the show sending a message to that man who strayed from her.

McKendree opens "How Long," playing effective electric piano with a bit of honky tonk. It's a little bit of country mixed with a blues sound, befpre leading into "Midnight," one the better cuts in the album. Rothrock sings about the feeling she gets every night around midnight when she starts missing the man she used to have. It's one of the singles from the album, and gives me both a country and soul feel, while Lamkin's various guitar work makes me think I'm sitting at an outdoor bar somewhere on a tropical island.

:Goodbye" starts out slow with a country sound that morphs into a soul ballad as the energy increases. Rothrock's voice really begins to soar as she laments that she just can't say goodbye to this failed relationship, meanwhile McKendree infuses a small piece of gospel with his piano accompaniment.

Lamkin opens the mid-tempo "Try" with bluesy slide guitar chords and McKendree lays down the bedrock on organ, with Rothrock encouraging her mate to try to make something of their relationship, singing, "... I don't care if the mountain's too high, baby, don't you want to try? ..."

"Hey Little Bird" begins with actual bird chirping before Lamkin lays down subtle slide guitar to go with Rothrock's restrained, haunting vocals. It's a nice ending to a wonderful album.

The Rock House Sessions is a solid introduction to a fantastic singer with a promising career ahead of her. With only nine cuts, all very good, it will leave you wanting more. But I've listened to it over and over multiple times, and it sounds better each time through. Looking forward to more from Nalani Rothrock, but for now I'll be happy with this album.

--- Bill Mitchell

Ally VenableAlly Venable's latest album, her fifth since she broke out on the Texas blues scene at the age of 16, shows an artist who is spreading her wings and again branching into a variety of forms of blues to go with the blues/rock sound that has been her hallmark. Real Gone! (Ruf) consists of a dozen solid blues and blues/rock cuts, showcasing Venable's guitar pyrotechnics and her sweet and sassy voice to match. She also gets a bit retrospective throughout the album, singing about where she's from, the effect that blues has had on her life, and the music that has influenced her.

Venable takes us back to the early part of her career at 16 on the up-tempo blues rocker, "Real Gone," laden with plenty of funky guitar effects. She goes back even further on the slow, gentle intro to "Going Home," on which she sings about her childhood home. The restrained beginning to the song soon turns into heavy blues/rock guitar before ending in a brief ethereal moment.

One of the highlights here is when Venable teams up with blues legend Buddy Guy on "Texas Louisiana," as they each take turns singing about their respective home states and leading into the differences in their age and upbringing. Venable sings "... I'm just starting now ..." while Guy counters with "...I am never done ..." Of course, they both get the chance to tear up the blues on guitar.

Venable goes in a completely different direction with the wonderful "Blues Is My Best Friend," starting with fingerpicking acoustic guitar before switching to electric, going from a country blues to a straight blues shuffle. When she sings, "... Blues is my best friend and my worst enemy, too ...," it gives off the idea that she's getting autobiographical again. Vocals are strong here.

Fasten your seat belt for "Justifyin'," as this one is a heavy blues/rock number, highlighted by a strong guitar solo. The mood swings around 180 degrees on the slow, soulful blues number "Any Fool Should Know," with Venable putting her heart and soul into her voice. One of my favorites. Returning to more of a sassy, hard rockin' sound is "Kick Your Ass," as she gives orders to that man who isn't treating her well. To continually emphasize her point, Venable repeatedly launches into blazing guitar solos.

The pace and energy level slows considerably on "Gone So Long," on which Venable uses her voice to get her story across about her childhood and how it now seems so long ago. A very subtle yet pointed message about how she sometimes wishes she had never left her backyard. A big horn section joins the band on the mid-tempo head bopper, "Don't Lose Me," with Venable's vocals given a fuzzy echo effect. I like everything about this number.

"Hold My Ground" is a slow, eerie blues, with Venable singing that the subject of the song can't make up for past mistakes, using the words, "...I won't back down, I'm strong enough to hold my ground ..." It's different than much of the rest of the album, but very effective, and the guitar solo supports her lyrics. Following is another great slow song, "Next Time I See You," which could be the sequel to the previous number. Vocals are strong here as she projects with power to get her point across.

Fuzzy guitar chords provide the introduction to the closing number, "Two Wrongs," as she repeats the lessons she learned from her mother. Mama's correct, as usual .... two wrongs don't make it right. It's a strong ending to an album that accurately portrays the growth that we see and hear from Ally Venable as she heads into her mid-20s, already a blues star with even better days ahead.

--- Bill Mitchell

Bob Corritore and FriendsWe can all be grateful that Phoenix blues entrepreneur Bob Corritore has regularly taken touring artists into the studio for sessions when they're in town for a show at his Rhythm Room club, and he's been periodically digging into his treasury of recordings for a series that he calls From The Vaults. Corritore's latest foray through his collection of recordings has resulted in a strong compilation titled Women In Blues Showcase (SWMAG/VizzTone), with 12 wonderful cuts recorded in 11 different sessions between 2001 and 2022.

Some of these cuts have been released on previous Corritore collections, but that's okay because they are worthy of being heard again. Corritore plays harmonica on most cuts, and the rest of the all-star backing musicians are too numerous to list here. In other words, buy the actual CD so that you get the complete  list of who's who.

We get a pair of very fine numbers from Barbara Lynn, "You're Gonna Be Sorry" and "You Don't Have To Go." I especially appreciate the latter cut, a cover of a Jimmy Reed classic.

I'm also tickled that we get to hear three numbers from Gulf Coast legend Carol Fran, a longtime favorite of mine during her career. "I Needs To Be Be'd With" was a regular part of her live shows, a slow blues showing the power that this remarkable woman had in her voice. Fran's other contribution is a fun mid-tempo blues shuffle, "Walkin' Slippin' And Slidin'," which I don't recall ever hearing from her back in the day, and a slow Louisiana tune, "I Just Need A Friend."

Houston-based Diunna Greenleaf shows up on two numbers. Her own "Be For Me" is a pleasant, slow shuffle, while she brings the house down with Willie Dixon's "Don't Mess With The Messer."

Street busker Valerie June does her version of "Crawdad Hole," a simple acoustic number that fits with the rest of the album. Koko Taylor contributes "What Kind Of Man Is This," with Corritore on harmonica and Bob Margolin on guitar. Shy Perry's stompin' version of "Wang Dang Doodle" showed up on a previous compilation, but it's such a good number that there's no reason for not including it here.

Rounding out the album is local Arizona icon Francine Reed with "Why Am I Treated So Bad," one that she's recorded before, and 17-year-old Aliya Primer, daughter of blues star John Primer, with an up-tempo Slim Harpo cover, "Te Ni Nee Ni Nu." Her dad plays guitar, with Anthony Geraci pounding out the piano parts. It looks like there may be another Primer hitting the blues scene before long.

Every one of the Bob Corritore & Friends compilations are worth having and listening to many times. Women In Blues Showcase is a welcome addition to the Corritore archives.

--- Bill Mitchell

Nick SchnebelenFormerly of the International Blues Challenge winning group Trampled Under Foot, singer/guitarist Nick Schnebelen has carved out an impressive solo career, recently issuing his fourth album for the VizzTone label, What Key Is Trouble In? Schnebelen wrote or co-wrote the 13 tracks, and is backed by drummer/co-writer Adam Hagerman and bassist/co-writer Cliff Moore. Keyboardist Red Young, saxophonist Buddy Leach, and organist Aaron Mayfield guest on selected tracks. Schnebelen and Chris Hardwick co-produced the album, a worthy follow-up to 2019’s Crazy All By Myself.

The driving blues rocker “Ten Years After, Fifty Years Later” is a storming tribute to the incredible Ten Years After guitarist Alvin Lee. The title track serves as a nice tribute to Albert King as Schebelen brings the blues legend’s muscular fretwork back to life. “Love In My Heart” mixes blues with funk, and “Blues Nights” is a soulful blues ballad, while “Hard Driving Woman” and “Will I Stay” are sturdy mid-tempo blues and upbeat blues rock, respectively.

“Pain Aside” is a groovy toe-tapping shuffle that really pops, thanks to Schnebelen’s guitar and Moore’s bassline, and the gritty “Poor Side of Town” has a definite Texas feel. “Jonny Cheat” is a fierce boogie rocker that sizzles, and “Big Mean Dog” is loaded with mood and attitude, while “Over the Cliff” has a strong southern rock vibe. “Throw Poor Me Out” borrows from Mississippi Hill Country with its droning rhythm, and the closer, “People Worry About Me,” is a dark, moody rocker.

What Key Is Trouble In? is an impressive addition to Nick Schnebelen’s catalog, each subsequent album improving on its predecessor. The singer/guitarist is also a talented songwriter with a first rate rhythm section. Blues rock fans will want to get their hands on this one.

--- Graham Clarke

John PrimerFebruary marked ten years since Chicago Blues legend Magic Slim passed away. He was such a huge part of the blues scene for so long that his absence is still felt today. He made incredibly raw and powerful music for so long, and for 13 years (1981-1993), John Primer worked side by side with him. I always liked how Slim gave Primer ample space on his albums and on the stage to show audiences what he was capable of, and Primer’s smooth, soulful and funky contributions were a fine complement to Slim’s rough and tumble approach.

On November 26 of last year, Primer and The Teardrops (Jon McDonald – guitar, Earl Howell – drums, Danny O’Connor -bass, and Lenny Media – drums), with Slim’s son, Shawn Holt, guesting on two tracks, recorded an outstanding live set in Chicago at Rosa’s Lounge paying tribute to the much-missed bluesman.

Teardrops for Magic Slim (Blues House Productions) includes a dozen tracks from Slim’s vast repertoire that will be familiar to his fans. Primer and company give a masterful performance that surely had his former boss and dear friend smiling from above.

Slim fans will recognize all of these tunes, as “Talk To Your Daughter,” “Luv Sumbody,” the slow blues “Every Night, Every Day,” “Ain’t Doing Too Bad,” and “Buddy Buddy Friend” kick off the set. Primer’s guitar work certainly captures the intensity and power that Slim’s did. It brought back memories of hearing these songs over the years, with goose bumps galore. The only Slim original on the set, “Trouble Of My Own,” is another splendid slow blues, with Primer and the band at their best on this track.

Shawn Holt sits in on the next two tracks, playing guitar and singing on the crowd favorite “Let Me Love You Baby” and the somber “It Hurts Me Too.” There’s also a rumbling version of “Look Over Yonder Wall,” done in the distinctive Magic Slim style. Guitar Slim’s standard, “The Things I Used To Do,” features some stinging fretwork from Primer.

The set wraps up with another pair of fan favorites, “Before You Accuse Me” and Little Milton’s “The Blues Is Alright.”

Primer is in excellent form throughout. I wondered how many times he actually has played these songs over the years. He plays them with an energy and intensity that you can feel through the speakers. The Teardrops are razor sharp, providing rock solid backing.

Teardrops for Magic Slim is about a fine a tribute as a blues legend could ask for, and belongs in every Chicago blues fans’ collection.

--- Graham Clarke

Savoy BrownShortly after British blues rock icons Savoy Brown completed their 42nd album, Blues All Around (Quarto Valley Records), founder/guitarist/singer/songwriter Kim Simmonds passed away just a week after turning 75.

Simmonds had been diagnosed with colon cancer in September of 2021. He went public on Facebook last August, stating he had to suspend his live performances for the rest of the year due to the difficulties he was experiencing playing guitar (side effects of chemotherapy were causing peripheral neuropathy in his hands and fingers).

The new release leans more toward the blues side of blues rock than previous efforts, and it required some modifications to the band’s approach in the studio due to Simmonds’ declining health. At the recommendation of engineer/studio owner Ron Keck, drummer Garnet Grimm and bassist Pat DeSalvo played their parts after Simmonds laid down his guitar and vocal tracks, eschewing the band’s usual “live in the studio” format. Also, John Shelmet suggested Simmonds play more slide guitar to offset the effects of the neuropathy. None of the difficulties involved are detectible in Simmonds’ guitar work or vocals (he also wrote all 12 tracks), sounding as inspired and passionate about the music as ever.

After a snippet, “Falling Through,” which will reappear in full form at the close of the album, things begin in earnest with the straight-ahead rocking shuffle “Black Heart,” moving into the swampy “Going Down South,” which features Simmonds’ terrific slide guitar and harmonica, and the gritty “Gypsy Healer.”

The title track follows, adding organ (by Simmonds) to the mix, giving it a slightly different feel, and Simmonds really ups the ante with some stellar guitar work on this track. Meanwhile, “Texas Love” is a tough blues rocker with a grungy guitar rhythm driving things along, and the marvelous slow blues “Winning Hand” offers more superb slide guitar.

“Hurting Spell” is a tough blues with Simmonds on slide and organ, and the mid-tempo Latin-feel of “Can’t Go Back To My Hometown” allows ample opportunity for Simmonds’ fretwork. “California Days Gone By” is a slide-driven shuffle that works really well, the sizzling “My Baby” rocks hard with more slide guitar and DeSalvo’s walking bass line, and the pensive closer, “Falling Through The Cracks,” expands the brief snippet that opened the disc with Simmonds playing and singing unaccompanied.

Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown have been playing their brand of blues rock since 1965. If you were on board at the beginning, you’ll find that the band’s sound was as vital now as it was at their formation. Each release was as compelling as the previous ones, which is no mean feat over a 57-year, 42-album run. That’s completely due to the talent, drive and determination of Simmonds, whose guitar work was as inspired at the conclusion of his career as it was at the beginning.

Blues All Around may close the book on Savoy Brown, but what a book it was!

--- Graham Clarke

Steve HillSteve Hill has been known as a one-man band for the last decade, but for his latest album, Dear Illusion, he’s joined by drummer Wayne Proctor and a big horn section, along with a couple of other guest artists on selected tracks. Granted, Hill still plays guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel, piano, mandolin, and harmonica throughout, and he wrote or co-wrote all ten songs. Three years in the making, Hill decided to make some revisions to the final product during the pandemic that helped ensure that the album would be an appropriate tribute to his 25 years as a recording artist.

The thunderous blues rocker “All About The Love” gets things off to a rousing start and builds in intensity, with the horns really kicking in about a minute in. “Keep It Together” is an upbeat blues with a country feel, compliments of Hill’s harmonica, and “Everything You Got” leans more toward the rock side of the aisle but with the horns giving it extra punch and Hill’s fretwork is most impressive. The bluesy title track is a smoldering ballad with Hill’s anguished vocal, soaring horns giving the track a bit of a pop feel, while “Steal The Light From You” is a retro rocker.

The rootsy “Don’t Let The Truth Get In The Way (Of A Good Story)” takes a hard look at the public’s attraction to social media. It’s followed by “Follow Your Heart,” a terrific mix of rock and R&B that would have been a nice fit on a ’70s-era Stones album, and “So It Goes,” a deep, emotional track with acoustic guitars about the loss of a friend. “She Gives Lessons In Blues” is a blues rocker with tons of soul, thanks to great vocal and guitar from Hill, and the closer, “Until The Next Time,” is a lovely ballad that features some superb guitar work from Hill.

Supporting musicians include the seven-time UK Blues Awards Drummer of the Year Proctor, and The Devil Horns (Jacques Kuba Seguin – trumpet, Mario Allard – baritone sax, Edouard Touchette – trombone), plus extra horns from Felicien Bouchet (trumpet), Nacim Brahimi (tenor sax), Gregory Julliard (trombone), and Benjamin Deschamps (tenor sax). Also contributing are Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre (pedal steel) and Rocky Laroche (stand-up bass).

With Dear Illusion, Steve Hill shows that he’s more than capable of expanding beyond his one-man-band concept with excellent results.

--- Graham Clarke

Kurt AllenKansas-based singer/guitarist Kurt Allen and his band (Gregory Schaberg – drums/vocals, Bill Morlan – bass/vocals) were out of action during the pandemic, which was quite a change given the band’s usual rigorous 150 – 200 shows a year schedule. The band was able to return to the live scene, and with a vengence, turning in a powerful set at The Red Shed in Hutchinson, Kansas in May of 2021. Fortunately, the set was captured for posterity on Live From The Red Shed, a stirring set of nine tracks, eight written by Allen, that shows the band is once again in great form after the imposed layoff.

The opener, “Graveyard Blues,” is a driving blues rocker that gets the set off to a rousing start. The mid-tempo “Bad Love” is a new track that Allen sings with a lot of soul, and “How Long” is a smooth slow burner that gives the guitarist ample room to strut his stuff. “Voodoo Queen” has a funky, swampy feel and the rhythm section really shines on this extended track before shifting gears to the rough and tough rockers “Watch Yo Step” and “When I Fall.”
“Whiskey, Women, & Trouble” was the title track of Allen’s previous album in 2020 and this rendition was a definite crowd pleaser. The only cover on the set is an explosive version of Son House’s “Death Letter,” that works extremely well and provides a perfect lead-in for the album closer, “Better Think Twice,” a hard-rocking cautionary tale.

Live From The Red Shed shows that Kurt Allen and his bandmates returned to live performances with a vengeance. With plenty of searing guitar work and a rhythm section deeply entrenched in the pocket, this album is a great fit for anyone who digs live blues rock in action.

--- Graham Clarke

Gayle HarrodGayle Harrod began her singing career, at least her public career, at age 42 back in 2011, singing with the band Triple Shot. She also performed with the blues/classic rock band Blues Deluxe and the R&B band Shakedown before forming The Gayle Harrod Band with guitarists Stan Turk and and drummer Chuck Ferrell. Their debut release, Temptation, features a dozen tracks written by Harrod and the band. Other contributors include guitarists Buddy Speir, Jonathan Sloan, Sol Roots, and Bobby Thompson, keyboardist Brian Simms, bassist Christopher Brown, backing vocalists Mary Ann Redmond and Dusty Rose, and harmonica player Rachelle Danto, as well as the Beltway Horns and the Voices of Faith.

The mid-tempo funky shuffle, “Sweet Memphis Man,” gets the album off to a rousing start, followed by the anthemic “Come On People,” which calls for peace and understanding during these turbulent times. “Baby We’re Through” is a tough blues ballad that finds Harrod showing her lover the door, and the atmospheric title track finds her in the ongoing struggle between good and evil, the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.

“In The Deep Dark Night” tells the tale of a secret love affair with a New Orleans second line rhythm, and if the gospel flavored “Bring Me Along” doesn’t light your fire, your wood must be wet. The acoustic country blues “Waiting In The Shadows” provides a perfect showcase for Harrod’s powerful vocals.

The soulful, horn-infused “Break” is a spirited workout, and “You’re Gonna Miss Me” is a hard-charging rocker, while “The In Between” is country soul in the finest Muscle Shoals tradition. The amusing “God Laughed” has a bit of a Crescent City feel, and the lovely ballad “Beautiful Friend,” which offers advice and encouragement to a loved friend, closes the disc.

Harrod has such a strong and versatile set of pipes that it makes one wonder why it took her so long to share them with the public. She’s also a gifted songwriter in a variety of styles that reach beyond the blues. Temptation is a most promising debut release from The Gayle Harrod Band and hopefully we will hear more from them soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Achilles TenderloinJoe Augustin, a.k.a. Achilles Tenderloin, plays a brand of blues that also incorporates folk and Americana into the mix. His latest release, Tincture for Trouble, features ten memorable songs written by Augustin that are both interesting and unique in their lyrical and musical content, with a multitude of instruments not normally associated with the blues that work impressively well.

“Torch Song” opens the disc, a gently swinging jazzy number with muted trumpet and Augustin’s acoustic guitar and quiet vocal. The somber “Blue Silhouettes” follows, with violins and cello enhancing the moody track, and “Little Girl Blue” is a fine showcase for acoustic guitar and mandolin with haunting background vocals. The ominous “Kiss The Ground” is a striking, gritty blues with slide guitar and a slow, driving rhythm, while “Don’t Be Long” is a bit more upbeat, even jaunty with an old timey flair.

The intriguingly-titled “Never Trust A Barber” is an eerie track that feels like a humid, moonless night in the Mississippi Delta, and the swinging “Falls Thistlethwaite” has a strong country feel with Dave Hadley’s pedal steel, while the lively but brief “Pipedream Blues” features more of Augustin’s slide guitar.

The title track is a lovely, pure Americana ballad, and the closer, “Howlin’ At The Earth,” is a somber blues that more or less brings together everything that preceeded it.

A powerful set of blues and roots music, Tincture for Trouble is the best release yet for Achilles Tenderloin. Compelling lyrics and interesting musical arrangements and performances make this one required listening.

--- Graham Clarke

Mike Zito and Albert CastigliaMike Zito and Albert Castiglia teamed up for a very successful tour last spring and summer. Dubbed the “Blood Brothers” shows, the tour will continue in 2023. The pair also have released a collaborative album on Zito’s Gulf Coast Records label.

Blood Brothers was produced by another pair of formidable guitarists, Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana with a core band that includes Douglas Byrkit (bass), Matthew Johnson and Ephraim Lowell (drums/percussion), and Lewis Stephens (keys) with a host of guest artists, including Smith and Bonamassa sitting in on guitar.

The 11 tracks include five originals and six covers. The album opener and first single is “Hey Sweet Mama,” penned by Zito, which is an old school Berryesque rock and roller with Castiglia and Zito sharing vocal and guitar duties. Zito also wrote the gripping “In My Soul,” written after Zito’s wife Laura was diagnosed with cancer, and Castiglia delivers on Tinsley Ellis’ “Tooth and Nail,” a tough southern rocker written especially for the duo. Next is a cover of Fred James’ “Fool Never Learns,” a smooth soul burner with a dazzling horn section driving things along.

Bonamassa is featured on guitar on Castiglia’s “A Thousand Heartaches,” a powerful tale of unrequited love that also benefits from the backing vocals contributed by Jade Macrae and Dannielle DeAndrea. John Hiatt’s “My Business” gets a gritty, swampy treatment with scorching slide from Zito. “You’re Gonna Burn,” the second Fred James tune on the disc (co-written with Berry Hill), is a smoldering slow blues, while the romping cover of Graham Wood Drout’s “Bag Me, Tag Me, Take Me Away” revisits the retro rock feel of the opening track.

Zito’s “No Good Woman” is a strong, mid-tempo blues rocker, and the dynamite instrumental “Hill Country Jam,” written by Zito and Smith, is reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band, with the guitars playing in harmony and the rest of the band locked in tight behind them.

The album closes with “One Step Ahead of the Blues,” written by Roger Tillison, but made popular by J.J. Cale. This is a fun conclusion, with Zito and Castiglia sharing vocals. It’s obvious throughout this tune that the pair have developed a powerful musical bond.

Hopefully, that musical bond will continue to develop and these guys will continue to work together. Be sure to keep an eye and ear out as they continue their Blood Brothers Tour throughout the U.S. this year and grab up the fine Blood Brothers album while you’re waiting for them.

--- Graham Clarke

Scott EllisonFor Scott Ellison’s 14th, and latest release, Zero-2-Sixty (Swordfish Records), the singer/songwriter/guitarist decided to strip down and produce a rock solid set of modern blues that touch on Chicago as well as Texas and his native Oklahoma. He wrote or co-wrote (with Michael Price and/or Chris Campbell) 11 of the 12 tracks and plays keyboards, bass, and percussion in addition to his guitar duties, backed by Jon Parris, Ron Morgan or Matt Kohl (bass), Robbie Armstrong or Matt Teagarden (drums/percussion), Danny Timms or Hank Charles (keyboards), and David Bernston (harmonica).

“She Needs A While Lotta Lovin’” opens the disc, a tough and tight shuffle that features Bernston’s harmonica backing. “That’s How I Love My Woman” follows, a superb slow blues with some signature Ellison fretwork and Timms’ B3 in support. The title track is a funky blues with a greasy groove that leads into the album’s lone cover, a tasty read of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s hit “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog.”

Ellison does a good job with his heartfelt vocal and the guitar work here is first rate. “You Can’t Blame A Guy For Tryin’” is a cool Windy City-styled shuffle and “Before the Teardrops Fell” is a soulful ballad. He breaks out the slide for the fierce blues rocker “Hard Headed Women,” and the country blues “Dig A Little Deeper.” “Jenni Kat” is a Texas-flavored shuffle.

“Ache In My Heart” is a gripping soul burner dealing with heartbreak. The moody “Soul Harbor” continues the soul vibe, with Ellison’s guitar work adding the right touch of blues to the mix, before the album wraps with “You Can’t Hurt Me No Mo’,” another great shuffle punctuated by Ellison’s piercing lead guitar.

Zero-2-Sixty is another fine addition to Scott Ellison’s ever-increasing catalog, each subsequent release improving on the previous effort. If you’re not familiar with Ellison's work, this is a fine place to get on board, but you’ll want to dig deeper after listening.

--- Graham Clarke



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