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JP Soars – More Bees With Honey

Soars High Productions

13 tracks; 58.25 minutes

Florida based JP Soars and his band The Red Hots won the IBC in 2009 and this is their second CD on JP’s own label. Most of the material on the album is original, with just two covers. The Red Hots are a trio, with JP Soars on guitars and vocals, long-serving drummer Chris Peet and Donald “The Cougar” Gottlieb on bass. Guests include the late Robin Rogers on vocals, Jason Ricci on harp and Travis Colby (Roomful Of Blues) on piano and organ; Terry Hanck and “Sax” Gordon Beadle add horns to some tracks.

The CD opens in dramatic fashion with the title track which features Robin Rogers on harmony vocals on what must have been one of her final recordings. It’s a slice of horn-driven old school soul which recalls bands like Delaney And Bonnie in their prime and makes an excellent opener to the album. “K.Y.N.O.M.B.” is a tough blues based round a strong guitar riff and harp response. The acronym stands for “Keep your nose out of my business”, by the way, and the sentiments of the lyric match the music perfectly. “So Many Times” is a slow blues with Travis Colby’s organ a feature. JP’s voice is strong enough to carry off a ballad like this one where there is no place to hide for the singer. A nicely developed guitar solo which moves from twanging notes to some real string bending is the centrepiece of a classic blues.

Before moving to the blues JP Soars played rock, jazz and flamenco guitar and the next two tracks demonstrate that range of experience. “Hot Little Woman” is a blues, but with so many changes of pace and style that at times it could be Django Reinhardt we are listening to! In contrast “Doggin’” is a heavy blues with a main riff based on a wah-wah guitar figure. JP’s solo here is as much Deep Purple as deep blues, again demonstrating his versatility.

JP’s first CD was entitled “Back Of My Mind”, so one might be forgiven for thinking that the next track is a reprise of that title track. However, the first CD did not contain a song by that title, so this is a new one, a fast rhumba with a lyric that takes us back to JP’s childhood when his Dad played guitar to him “Now you know that the music’s in my soul and it makes me feel so good. It’s a feeling, people, that you don’t learn in school.” The fast-paced song is a good precursor to the first cover, HE Owen’s “The Hustle (Is On)”, best known for T Bone Walker’s version. This one rips along with the saxophones and piano pushing the rhythm and JP doing his best T Bone impression – a gem of a track and worth the price of the CD on its own.

Pacing the CD nicely, the next track “Lost It All” is a slow blues instrumental with beautifully played harp by Jason Ricci which gives the piece a sad and melancholy feel. However, the pace is soon picked up on “Twitchin’”, a short and sweet rocker propelled by Travis Colby’s rock and roll piano and JP’s insistent guitar riff. The second cover on the CD follows, Louisiana Red’s “Sweet Blood Call”, a song which pulls no punches about the state of the relationship between author and girl: “I’d have a hard time missing you, baby, with my pistol in your mouth”.

“They’ll Do It Every Time” is an uptempo blues with a few changes of pace. Jason Ricci’s harp doubles up on JP’s searing slide playing to offer an aggressive tone that matches the rather cynical lyric. “Chasing Whiskey With Whiskey” is the longest cut on the CD at over seven minutes, a slow blues which lyrically recalls songs like Muddy’s “Champagne And Reefer”. Jason Ricci’s harp is again to the fore, JP playing mournful slide behind him. The CD then closes with another slide feature, this time the fast paced “Where’d You Stay Last Night?”, a collaborative effort between JP and Baby Face Leroy, although the lyrics certainly seemed familiar with the references to clothes being dishevelled and smelling strange!

Overall this is an excellent CD that should solidify JP Soar’s reputation as a guitarist to reckon with. What I particularly liked was the variety of pace and styles. The band is consistently good throughout and some of the guest appearances really sparkle. I can thoroughly recommend the CD and I can assure readers that if JP Soars And The Red Hots pass through your town you should be sure to catch the show as they are just as good live as they are on record.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.

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