Jake Lear - Lost Time Blues
Total time: 47:42
Binghamton, New York singer/songwriter/guitarist Jake Lear, who debuted impressively with his Love and Charm CD in 2007, has just issued his second CD, Lost Time Blues, featuring his band, bass guitarist Carlos Arias and drummer Mike Ricciardi, and guest musicians Pete Ruttle and Brian O’Connell. Arias, originally from the Basque region of Spain and now dividing his time between Argentina, Binghamton and Spain, and Ricciardi, who’s drummed behind Foghat, Badfinger and other international recording artists, lay down a solid beat behind an impressive, rocking array of blues and folk-blues tunes. Jake Lear, who’s composed nine of the 11 tracks on Lost Time Blues, said he wanted to make a “somewhat disjointed” CD that incorporated several differing approaches. He’s succeeded, and succeeded very well.
But what impressed me most about Lost Time Blues is that this is a real booty-shaking CD that’s a great party album, with 11 very danceable songs. However, the CD’s highly danceable repertoire of nine rockers, three folk-rock tunes, and two slow numbers in no way detracts from the incisiveness and creativity of the songs themselves. This is a solid CD for listening as well as for hip-shakin’, feet-movin, finger-poppin’ good times.
Lear lists his main influences as T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bob Dylan, and those influences are there in Lost Time Blues, along with the electric Chicago blues of Jimmy Rogers and J.B. Lenoir. Sharing space with this solid blues core is also another solid core built around the classic guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll of Ronnie Hawkins, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and early Elvis Presley, along with a dollop of early Rolling Stones, the Mamas and Papas, white country-rock, and that early folk-rock paradigm, “Corrina, Corrina,” from the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan LP.
The six vigorous rockers are the Lear-composed tracks of track 1, “Streets of Michaelangelo” (a Dylanesque title if there ever was one); track 3, “Leave This Town;” track 5, “Sure Gonna Miss You;” track 6, “Sometimes;” and track 9, the John Lee Hooker-like “Blues 3 Ways” (with, as the notes say, “[a]dditional lyrics…borrowed from Bob Dylan and Son House”). There’s also a sterling rock arrangement of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway ”(track 8). If these don’t move you to the dance floor, you’re likely to be declared legally dead!
Acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock is expressed in track 2, Willie Brown’s “Ragged and Dirty (an old song most familiar in its Sleepy John Estes Rendition, “Broke and Hungry”), and the Lear-composed country-rockers “Muddy Water” (track 4, about a flood) and the philosophical screed, “Lost Time Blues” (track 10), with Lear’s guitar riffing joined by Brian O’Connell’s banjo. O’Connell plays gospel-inflected organ on the Otis Redding/Percy Sledge-inspired slow soul blues, “Boogie Woogie Woman,” a song great for holding your baby tight while you slow dance romantically. Another slow blues here is the last track, the pensive and lyrical “Bluebird” (both also Lear-composed).
O’Connell adds his organ talents to “Streets of Michaelangelo” as well, and Pete Ruttle plays somewhat Dylanesque harp on “Ragged and Dirty.” Jake Lear plays electric guitar on all tracks where he doesn’t play acoustic, and his electric solos are excellent, tasty, wonderfully understated, and, even though long, with several songs featuring two guitar solos, never subject to overlong gonzo technique-for-technique’s sake flash.
Like Ruttle’s harp, Jake Lear’s singing and songwriting can be described as Dylanesque as well. His vocal style is reminiscent of a lower-register Bob Dylan, and his masterful songwriting partakes of those deliciously surprising lyric twists that are so much part of Dylan’s songs, with their infusing into the mundane and standard the brittle and surrealistic.
All these making Lost Time Blues one strong effort from Jake Lear that’s both artistically compelling and fun to listen and dance to. Add to its credit the two Anna DeMauro photo montages that grace the front and back covers, and this CD becomes a visual knockout as well as an aural one.
Lost Time Blues can be ordered from Jake Lear’s website, above. Buy this CD for your next blues bash, and not only will you have a party to remember, you might even have this reviewer crash it as well. “Hey, hey, hey, good to see ya, hand me a cold one. Wow! Dig that Jake Lear Lost Time Blues CD! Hey baby, wanna dance?”
Reviewer George Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr, and writes a regular music column, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.