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Bill Bourne & The Free Radio Band - Bluesland

Self Release


On their way to Bluesland, Bill and the boys obviously took a detour to singer-songwriter-rock-country land. That is not to say that the band doesn’t commit itself well, it’s just that blues is a seasoning rather than the main course. For some unknown reason Canada is a fertile breeding ground for imaginative music that crosses genre lines.

The CD opens with what sounds like Mark Knopfler’s guitar leading into a John Hiatt vocal. The resemblance of Bill’s voice to John’s is just uncanny. “Deep Dark Woods” has lyrical content similar to Hiatt’s as well. Bill’s son Pat provides electric lead guitar which at times has the fuzz-acid tone of Henry Vestine of Canned Heat fame. Pa Joe is listed as playing electric smooth jazz guitar, which is the Knopfler sound I hear. The leader, besides his distinctive vocals, plays acoustic rhythm guitar as well as harmonica ala Bob Dylan. The Canned Heat style guitar makes its first appearance in “Forever Truly Bound”, which is taken at a brisk pace. “Who’s Knockin’?” could take its rightful place on a John Hiatt CD. It rolls merrily along smack dab into a nimble-fingered guitar dual. Bill’s vocals spill out naturally over seamless lyrics. The traditional country tale “Columbus Stockade Blues” benefits from fleet-fingered country-meets-jazz guitar.

The smoldering lament that is “Daily Bread” again recalls a John Hiatt workout. This comparison isn’t pointing out a flaw or musical theft; rather it’s a compliment as to how this influence is used to create something wholly new. Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” is taken at a somewhat brisker jaunt than the original, complete with cheesy harmonica. It’s a cover that works on its’ own merits.

Although a tad short for my liking this is a mostly likeable musical excursion. It’s somehow unusual in that all the music is from the band without any outside help, as well as being “recorded off the floor”. This is surely a voice that could work itself into a household name. I’m sure he isn’t consciously mimicking, although he has probably consciously used Hiatt as a reference. “Deep Dark Woods” could take off if given the proper exposure. Many musical forms are assimilated here to create a hearty musical stew..

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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