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Tas Cru – Jus’ Desserts

Crustee Tees Records 2010

11 tracks, 47.31 minutes.

Tas Cru (whose name means ‘peeled potato’ in Québécois) is based in upstate NY and his CDs (of which this is his fourth) always have amusing titles. He has performed at many of the best known clubs and festivals, including Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street, Ground Zero in Clarksdale and the Kalamazoo Blues Festival. He performs in a variety of formats, from solo acoustic to an eight piece band. On this CD he plays acoustic and electric guitars and harp and is accompanied by Andy Hearn on drums, Mike Lawrence on bass, Chip Lamson (also the producer) on keyboards and Meaghan Janovsky joins Chip on backing vocals. Slide and lead guitar is added on five tracks by Jeremy Walz, accordion on one track by Sue Grimm. All songs are original, one written in collaboration with Chip Lamson. The CD was recorded in Canton NY.

This was my first exposure to Tas’ music, so I approached the CD with an open mind. Tas’ voice is clear and the backing is quite gentle so the songs are placed centre stage. I enjoyed the opener “Just Let It Happen” which is a recipe for reducing stress by following the advice of the title. “Glad To Be Alive” is a shuffle with a lyric about the talents of a loved one: “She can’t cook a lick, she never learned to sew but what when it comes to loving, my oh my what that woman knows! I’m here to testify, my baby got that special something, make me glad to be alive”. Tas plays some tasty guitar here, the solo having some jazzy tones to it.

“The Real Deal” is about the blues and its continuing presence, despite occasional attempts to alter its essence. “Time And Time” is the longest track, running to over six and a half minutes. It’s a stately ballad with subtle backing from the ensemble, especially the organ and guitar, the solo on acoustic guitar being particularly well played. Next up is “’Dat Maybe”, a real change of pace, an almost hillbilly rhythm, a harp-led tune expressing the frustration of the guy whose girl is hesitant about commitment: “Don’t say you will when you know you won’t; don’t give me dat maybe when your heart says no”.

“My GPS Mama” is a slide –driven song with some nice piano. “My GPS Mama would love to tell me where to go. If I don’t follow her direction, right away she lets me know” sings Tas’ in a comic song about back seat drivers (but which could well be interpreted in a different sense)! Another good play on words occurs in the next title “Eau De ‘Nother Man” which is an almost spoken vocal, the story tells us about how the guy, returning from buying a new perfume for his girl, finds her wearing the scent of a rival who has just fled out the back door!

Slide guitar, harp and quickfire drums lead us through “Kinda Mess” which is faded out to let in “Swing Doctor” which meets the expectations of the title in terms of rhythm, led by the piano. This doctor is likely to prescribe this type of music to cure your ills!

Title song “Jus’ Dessert” is a slow, moody piece which opens with subtle slide aided by accordion. The food theme goes throughout the song, clearly a prime example of Tas’ reputation as “the master of the triple entendre”. “She folded up the menu, said we’ll take that to go. I knew where she was heading, right back out the door. I said if you don’t mind, baby, I’m thinking about jus’ dessert.” “The Lucky Ones” closes the album with a solo acoustic song about redemption through getting a second chance at love.

Overall an enjoyable album in which the songs range across humorous and serious themes and the accompaniment is always at the service of the material. Definitely worth a listen.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He recently attended the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago and had a great time! Back in the USA for the January 2011 Blues Cruise!

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