FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Jim Byrnes - Everywhere West

Black Hen Music


How does a Canadian icon originally from St. Louis with a honey-honed gravel voice that records seamless, perfectly produced blues-roots music goes virtually unnoticed in the states? Beats the ever-loving wotever outta me, but the evidence of his greatness lies in his latest release were every note and word makes sense. His voice drips Memphis. This quintessential blue-eyed soul brother bespeaks years of living the blues life. That warm, well-traveled voice complimented by interwoven guitars, dobros, fiddle, trumpet, harmonica, organ, piano and horn section just flies by too fast and you find yourself playing this record over and over. Guitarist-producer Steve Dawson is a wiz on all manner of stringed instruments, be it masterful slithering slide, country-tinged licks or back porch national steel guitar. Jim’s and Dawson’s original songs sit well amongst his clever reworkings of blues standards.

A Byrnes rough and tumble original “Hot As A Pistol” tells the tale of a heart-breaking woman as a punchy horn section supports wicked slide and organ solos. “Bootlegger’s Blues” overflows with blues-meets-hoedown goodness by the way of dobro, fiddle, banjo and mandolin interaction. Steve Dawson’s thick, wicked electric slide floats to the heavens in a gutsy workout of Lowell Fulsom’s “Black Nights”. Dawson contributes a tune that visits John-Hiatt singer-songwriter territory while adding his lilting pedal steel touches. It’s one of those perseverance tunes that won’t leave your head or feet. The producer shows his range with country guitar runs alongside trumpet and fiddle on the pickin’ and grinnin’ romp of “No Mail Blues’.

The Byrnes- Tim Hearsey “Storm Warning” speaks of “trouble in paradise” via clichés, blues and otherwise that don’t come off as trite. Robert Johnson’s “Four Until Late” fares well from a New Orleans brass band treatment. All the standards here are given fresh overalls that enhance rather than take anything from the originals. Byrnes’ vocal delivery fits everywhere as if it was always there. Jeanne Tolmie supplies spot-on counterpoint vocals on a sweet, mournful and warm rendition of “He Was A Friend Of Mine”. Daniel Lapp’s trumpet takes the jug on the jug band tune “You Can’t Get That Stuff No More”. Kansas City circa 1938 is invoked in “Me And Piney Brown” with requisite barrelhouse piano touches courtesy of Mike Kalanj.

This is a satisfying release that calls out for wider distribution and attention. Music doesn’t get any better than this. If this “cream doesn’t rise to the top” it is certainly an injustice to blues and music in general. The singer describes it best in his press flyer-“Deep down, blues is an acceptance of life. You stand in front of life and life says, ‘that’s the way it is baby’. To play the blues, you take all the bullshit that’s been piling up and you channel it through your guitar and voice. You let the pain go and turn it into a good feeling. That’s the blues-pure and simple.”

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design