Ray Farrell & Marco Pandolfi
Stuck On the Blues
Blue Beet Records
By Ben Cox
Run Time: 47:38
After turning in one of 2006’s best acoustic
blues albums with Steve Guyger, Richard Ray Farrell comes back with
a different partner and a different approach on “Stuck On the
Blues.” Farrell found his Italian-born harmonica master while on
tour in Europe a few years back, and in Farrell’s own words put
together this “long overdue” project.
Farrell handles all the vocal and guitar work
while Pandolfi is his echo on the harmonica throughout. Remarkably,
with one large ocean and thousands of miles apart, this duo sounds
comfortably relaxed and sounds like they’ve been playing on each
other’s front porch for years. Demonstrating a wide array of
influences, Farrell & Pandolfi gives the listener every asset of
acoustic, country blues one could imagine. However, at its best, the
two players sound like they are just jamming together and having a
good time. Placed up against the Guyger disc of last year, this
album falls a little bit short in sound and inspiration.
With Farrell’s voice conjuring a John Hammond
feel, four of the fourteen tracks are penned by Farrell himself with
the rest coming from the wide array of influences. With only one
song sounding completely out of place a little misarranged, there
are a few gems to be found in the rough of this very relaxed album.
The Lightnin’ Hopkins “I Once Was a Gambler” which Farrell notes he
learned from Mississippi Hill Country Legend RL Burnside turns in
some of the best guitar-harmonica coupling on the disc, with a low
down and dirty rambling feel that suits any of Hopkins’ catalog.
Another rambling show of genius is the Big Bill Broonzy cover “Make
My Getaway” that as Farrell says demonstrates a lot of atmosphere
and some great moaning rhythm harmonica from Pandolfi. Pandolfi also
demonstrates some genius lending some Charlie Musselwhite-inspired
jazz influence to the Blind John Davis cover “Honey Babe.” Farrell
shows us his penchant signature on the oft-non-covered Robert
Johnson tune “Phonograph Blues” by conjuring the brilliance and
nuance of Delta guitar, but at 4:22 seems a bit too long and
uncharacteristic of the source.
The only real fault I find in the disc is that
it seems to lumber along a bit in the middle tracks and the players
seem entirely too comfortable and are unchallenged. In a duo, often
times the best compliment for the group is the push-and-pull feel
created in the compositions. Pandolfi seems to wrap around Farrell’s
work and doesn’t seem to add to it. However, one might say this is
the object of his brilliance. Either way, if you’re a fan of
acoustic blues this one is still worth giving a listen if not for
the gems mentioned above but for the timelessness of the songs that
have been chosen.
Album is available on all major record outlets
or visit Richard Ray Farrell at
www.richardrayfarrell.com and visit Marco Pandolfi at his
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.