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Moreland & Arbuckle - Just A Dream

Telarc Records

12 songs; 48:21 minutes; Splendid

Styles: Roots Rock, North Mississippi Hills Drone Blues hybrid, “Sludge Rock”

HELP WANTED: Need band to go on tour and open shows for Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, ZZ Top, Robert Cray, Los Lonely Boys, and more. Expect to log 82,000 road miles over nine months.

Requirements: 1. Band must be serious, sober, and professional. For example: does lead singer take care of his vocal cords by warming them up before the show and dressing them down after the show?
2. Prior to the headline act, band must play music to invigorate the audience in a power set with only thirty to forty-five minutes to showcase what they do. Showmanship and ability to deliver to crowds of 15,000 a must!
3. Band must play energetic music the crowd is not expecting, therefore, no straight ahead Chicago Blues, Swing, or Jazz. Music must be unique enough and fresh enough yet still traditional enough, injecting something new into something that’s very old at the intersection of Blues and Rock.

HIRED - in 2010: Moreland and Arbuckle, as they met every criterion above. Their massive support-touring began after the release of their Telarc Records debut, “Flood.” Now, they are back on Telarc with their most ambitious outing, “Just A Dream.”
On their fifth CD, The duo from Kansas continue their decade-long style capturing the emotional spirit of the early 20th century Delta blues and the raw, electrified energy of post-World War II urban blues and refining it all into a hard-driving and stomping garage-rock grouping of guitar, vocals, harp and drums. When it comes to liking or not liking their music, I have found no fence sitters who can take it or leave it. For most folks I have encountered, it is a Love-Hate relationship; some love to hate it, and others would hate to not be loving it.

The band’s recent successes have allowed time for new layers of studio sophistication to the new CD. They have put extra effort and hours in at the studio crafting with more care and attention to details, especially when recording the vocals.

“Just A Dream” is a twelve song set showcasing Moreland’s powerful, double-picking guitar work (two tracks were recorded on his cigar-box guitar consisting of three guitar strings and one bass string). Equally featured are Arbuckle’s emotionally charged vocals and bend-till-you-find-that-lost-note harp. Drummer Brad Horner powers a rock-solid backbeat on drums and percussion, plus he adds background vocals. Aaron Moreland also adds baritone guitar, bass guitar, drums, and background vocals. Guesting on some songs on keyboards is Chris Wiser. The final track, “White Lightnin,'” was written by Booker T & MGs’ Steve Cropper, who adds a tasty guitar solo mid song.

Across the set, expect songs that charge ahead with magnum force, overdriven hard and distorted guitar riffs that thunder like a stomping jack-boot, and driving performances of Arbuckle’s amplified harmonica. Mostly original songs, one cover is Tom Waits’ “Heartattack and Vine,” a longtime concert favorite. They give it plenty of the M&A treatment while enhancing Waits’ tale of seedy characters even further. Personally, I found “So Low” and Cropper’s “White Lighnin’” most accessible.

Love’em or hate’em, nothing succeeds like success, and, of that, the boys have plenty.

This CD won’t change any already biased minds, but it might win some new converts, and it will certainly thrill the fans they currently have for its time-invested quality.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.

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