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Jimmy Bowskill Band - Back Number

Ruf Records

11 tracks; 47:28

Jimmy Bowskill is the wunderkid from Canada. At 21 years of age, he just released this fifth album.

Bowskill got his start at 11 years old in Jeff Healey’s Toronto night club. He has been dazzling audiences around the world ever since.

A few years ago, while touring Europe, Jimmy caught the ear of Thomas Ruf. Ruf Records released Jimmy Bowskill Band Live in 2010. The record captured the raw power and feral intensity of the band and set the stage for this powerhouse release.

While not directly blues, this music’s relationship to blues is akin to music by Cream, Mountain, Free, or even Gov’t Mule, drawing direction from the blues, and inspiration in minor key riffs. This is pouring out the pain in the finest tradition.

On this album the amps are turned up! It’s a gritty, crunchy sound with smoldering guitar serving as a launching pad for Bowskill’s rich tenor vocals. The lead track, “Take A Ride” starts with a grungy detuned riff with arpeggiated chords and a pulsating piano. The hook isn’t quite developed here but the song sets the stage for what’s to come.

“Linger On The Sweet Time” boosts the energy level on a darker sounding opener with Stones-y jangling chords, wailing slide guitars and propelling drum work from Dan Reiff. It’s upbeat, fun, and downright catchy.

Bowskill melds elements from blues and rock, forging a power trio sound for the modern era. “Little Bird” is another upbeat tune that benefits from the trio’s larger than life sound.

Jimmy Bowskill’s talent may be a happenstance of nature, but the maturity of his playing comes from 10 years of listening and learning, and playing with musicians more advanced than he. He resists the urge to over play. He doesn’t slash and burn and fizzle out. He chooses his notes carefully. He uses chorded phrases and open strings to fill out the overall sound. To this end, he often plays slow-bent notes and his vibrato is as wide as Lake Ontario. That’s not so say he doesn’t unleash the beast on occasion and let notes fly, he just chooses the moments for greatest effect. Dan Reiff on drums and Ian McKeown on bass play intuitively with Bowskill, and together they fill the gaps and present a robust sonic experience. Reiff is an almost hyperactive drummer and bassist McKeown has filled more holes than the Department of Public Works.

“Down the Road” is a fast moving rocker with organ flourishes to match the frenetic drumming and the driving rhythm guitars and “Seasons Change” is simply incandescent. The only real complaint I can find with the record is the lack of stylistic variety. The album revels in its titanic riffs and mammoth crunch but a little excursion into a slow blues would offer a few minutes respite from the bombast. Conversely, the band is developing a style of its own and consistency has given some acts long, prosperous careers. The Jimmy Bowskill Band does close out Back Number with an acoustic tune called “Least of My Worries.” The acoustic guitars, barroom piano, and dulcet vocal harmonies bring the album to a close in a sweetly surprising fashion.

This album should appeal to fans of guitar driven blues and blues rock. The band borrows from blues influenced classic rockers and takes a few tricks directly from blues sources like Freddie King. With powerful backing from an international label and an arsenal of great songs Bowskill looks poised to get major attention in the blues/rock community.

Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit

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