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Jeff Pitchell – American Girl


14 tracks; 49.44 minutes

Jeff Pitchell’s new CD is a mixture of recordings. Some songs were written for an upcoming movie by James Woods entitled “American Girl” and find Jeff writing with Jeff Silbar (Wind Beneath My Wings) and Gary Nicholson (Delbert McClinton); these songs were recorded in Nashville with David Z producing. Four cuts come from more recent sessions in Massachussets with Jay Geils producing. The musicians on board for the recordings is an impressive list: Reese Wynans and Bruce Bears play keyboards, David Smith and Jesse Williams share bass duties, Marty Richards and Lynn Williams share the drum stool. A horn section includes Rich Lataille on alto and tenor, Jim Hogan on baritone, Scott Aruda and Scott Heff on trumpet and backing vocals come from Bekka Bramlett, Etta Britt, Nakita Walker and Linda Casey Ransom. Additional rhythm guitar is by Mike Durham and Jay Geils plays on the four tracks he produced as well as bringing regular collaborator Gerry Beaudoin along to add a third lead guitar to an excellent version of “T Bone Shuffle”.

Jeff has a light, clear voice which works well with the material. Opener “Every Day” sets the standard with catchy refrain, fine guitar and superb, subtle support from the horns and backing vocalists. “T Bone Shuffle” always works for me and the Jay Geils produced version here is a winner. Jeff takes the first solo, Gerry Beaudoin the second in jazzier vein and Jay takes the third, the horns and the entire band swinging like mad throughout. “Saturday Night” has a riff that recalls “I Got Loaded” and the band again swings hard against Jeff’s tough solo. “Out In The Cold” is a bit rockier with some distorted guitar that worked less well for me. “I Found Me” is a nice contrast, Jeff’s voice right up front in a touching love ballad in which Jeff tells us that when he found his girl he found himself.

The other three Jay Geils tracks then follow, starting with a fine version of “Homework”. Swirling organ and deep baritone sax underpin the familiar vocal which Jeff handles excellently and I liked his guitar solo here which is followed by Jay Geils’. “Hard Drivin’ Man” is a Jay Geils/Peter Wolf tune and here represents one of the hardest rocking tunes on the CD. Jeff’s own “Prisoner Of Love” holds its own with these songs, another rocker with Jay Geils’ slide and powerful backing vocals propelling the song.

The rest of the album features songs that are presumably intended for the movie soundtrack. “Step Up” is a great track with impressive horns and a strong guitar solo. Title track “American Girl” has a strong chorus over a wah-wah rhythm. “My Jesus” is a slow, moody track while “Seriously” is quite fun and ‘folky’ with banjo and what sounds like a kazoo in the mix! Strangely this is the second CD I have reviewed recently with a song called “Beautifully Broken” – and neither is the Warren Haynes song! This one is beautiful indeed, a collaboration between the Jeffs Pitchell and Silbar. Jeff’s voice is set against some lovely piano, melodic bass and subtle drums. Finally there is a bonus track entitled “It Comes To Me Naturally” which is terrific, a real ear worm of a rocker with a catchy chorus, barrelhouse piano solo and a great band performance. The song is written by Keith Ainsley and tells us amusingly about being a ‘ladies’ man’!

Overall an impressive CD with plenty to enjoy. Recommended.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in April.

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