Run Time: 51:59
On his fifth release for Canadian stalwart Northern Blues, JW-Jones enlists two of the greats in West Coast guitar and produces one of the best blues guitar albums of the year. With Little Charlie Baty (Little Charlie & the Nightcats) and Junior Watson partnered up, JW-Jones tries to solidify his credentials with the ten originals and four covers on this latest offering.
The first track “Double-Eyed Whammy” quickly hammers the nail in the coffin that the offering is going to be a good one with JW, Little Charlie, and Junior calling and responding back and forth on the R&B laced bounce. JW shows his growth and maturity on the next disc as both a singer and a guitar player conjuring the funk and soul-blues of Stax-era Albert King on “Looking the World Straight In the Eye.” JW gets his regular band mates to take over on “Can’t Play A Playboy” and they are able to stand up to special guests Larry Taylor and Richard Innes who guest on most of the album in the rhythm section. Jones never pails next to all the experience, but shows depth, control, and excitement throughout the album.
A prime example of control is Jones’ ability to lay back and just sing a song on “Wasted Life” where Little Charlie noodles out his jazzy style while Watson interlaces “dynamic rhythm” as the liner notes state, throughout the melancholy tale of a wasted lover. “Heavy Dosage,” a West Coast swing number, allows all three players including the rhythm section to just stretch out into familiar territory.
Little Charlie Baty drifts into a former part of his trick bag, slipping into a phenomenal amplified harmonica solo on the slow cell phone blues of “Out of Service Blues.” Baty gives the guitar work fully over to Jones and Watson and gives quite an expressive solo that usually would have been reserved for band mate and harpsmith Rich Estrin in the Nightcats. However, Baty demonstrates once again why he’s a revered player in all circles, even though this is rumored this might be his last full on effort in the blues arena for some time.
Jones turns in some great earmarks on this record, demonstrating more maturity in his vocals and guitar playing compared to last year’s Kissing In 29 Days. His covers of B.B. King’s “That’s Wrong Little Mama” and “Waiting On You” never border on sheer imitation but sound more like Jones’ own.
Running on the heels of being dubbed one of Canada’s best blues bands and with the instant street credentials with Junior and Little Charlie in his corner, JW-Jones is ready to continue on his already successful path. If anything, this should at least garner him a nod next February in the Best Guitarist category. With his vocals and songwriting following quickly in tow, JW-Jones is ready to be put on your Blues List.
Visit JW at his myspace at: http://www.myspace.com/jwjones . CD is available from all major music outlets.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL