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Soulstack - Big Red

Self Released

13 tracks (12 songs)

This is the first release of Soulstack, a Toronto -based band with a bayou-based sound. Front man Jon Knight sings, plays guitar and co-wrote all but one song with keyboard player and vocalist Mark Wessenger. Knight is a great vocalist and holds his own on the guitar, but what also really impressed me is Wessner on the Wurlitzer and Hammond organs. Back line mates Tom Bona (vocals and drums) and Josh Knight (vocals and bass) are also solid throughout. This is a pretty cool band with a really good sound.

"In My Time of Dyin'" is the only cover, a traditional where Knight moans and the organ sparkles. Soulful and expressive, with a nice touch of guitar. They take you to church here, with a really good and bluesy/gospel sound. The other 11 songs are all brand new and I have no complaints with any of them- really well done stuff here.

"Stone Cold Man" opens the set and gets the juices flowing nicely with a driving beat and big sound. More of a rocking funky tune, this is a great intro to their album and shows us what they can do. "Desperate Times" takes us down to New Orleans with the big organ, piano and overall swamp pop sound. "Since You Came Around" is upbeat and more of the same; "I used to live my life in a minor key" is a cool analogy for what his love has done for him. "Just A Natural Thing" gives us some good uptempo music and impressive instrumentals. The closing cut "Miss Me" is somewhat up beat as it changes gears and uses a gospel influence sound to drive the song to the end.

"Desperate Times" is a big and more down beat track as is "Skinny Girl"; "In Your Mind" gets even more down and dirty, with more down home slow blues like in the cover cut. Wessenger does the vocals here and on another track- he's up to the task, too! He gets way down and dirty. It''s time for church again with "River of Love ," where organ, slide and guitar along with Knight's vocals just make you want to get on your knees and be taken down to the river of love. In "Holy Roller" we find hear how they will be "your holy roller" and make you "lay your Bible down;" I don't think he's talking about church services, ladies. A thoughtful and building instrumental accompanies this on piano, guitar and organ to take us out to the end of the cut. "Your Only Man" is another funky one, good licks and the soulful organ again fills this love song out so well. Acoustic guitar backed by the organ give "Let Me Be Your Fool" a minimalistic sound; the rest of the band is there, but their restraint is a nice touch.

These guys are the real deal. This debut recording is a well above average effort; the guys are soulful, funky and have a great and together sound. I enjoyed listening to this CD and anyone who likes a funky blues sound with a really good mix of organ and keyboards on top of guitar and effective vocals will really get hooked on this CD!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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