In our opinion: Top 24 Blues albums of 2018: Videos, CD covers

- in BLUES, New CD's Review, VIDEOS

The list below is a round-up reviews that ran in our website JazzBluesNews.Space during 2018. We calculated our top 24 Blues new releases. They are presented not by turns but simply by names. About these new CDs – a review, you can read our section http://jazzbluesnews.space/category/new-cds-review/.

  1. John Mayall – Three For The Road

John Mayall’s latest effort is an intimate live recording of a small outfit featuring Mayall on vocals, harmonica and keyboard backed by two longtime band mates, Drummer Jay Davenport and bassist Greg Rzab. Amazingly, this arrangement came about through pure happenstance.

A flight cancelled due to bad weather prevented the entire band’s meeting up, so when life presented Mayall and company with lemons, they made lemonade in the form of a rootsy, fun throwback to the simpler days of the blues. This is an ideal reminder of how few ingredients are needed to make the blues rattle your soul. Mayall’s voice has had better days, but that’s nitpicking. Three for the Road is too much fun to resist.

John Mayall

2. Lee Palmer – Horns & Harps 

CD covers can sometimes convey a misleading impression of the music contained in the album itself.  Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist, Lee Palmer’s sixth album, Horns & Harps, is a case in point.

The black and white CD cover is a close-up photograph of a bookish-looking Palmer in a striped shirt, smiling behind dark glasses and finger-picking a barre chord on what looks at first instance to be an acoustic guitar. It’s a cover that suggests a solo performance of folk music. As Willie Dixon reminded us, however, you can’t judge a book by its cover and Horns & Harps is actually a collection of 10 Americana songs played by a full band, with a lot of blues, a fair amount of rock, a splash of jazz and a hint of country.

Картинки по запросу Lee Palmer – Horns & Harps

3. The Bones of J.R. Jones – Ones To Keep Close

Jonathon Linaberry has used his one-man-band project to express his love for the old school blues greats translated to appeal to modern blues-rock enthusiasts. On his fourth release, Ones To Keep Close, he capitalizes on the gritty, stompy blues sound while also adding in catchy hooks throughout. Tunes like “Burden,” “Sinner Song,” and “Die Young” pay homage to his older folk days but they show the artist in a much more mature and comfortable position musically. Overall, this was a great effort from Bones of JR Jones and it includes tracks that could sneak into popular culture as well. Hopefully we will see more from the artist in the years to come.

4. Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart – Black Coffee

How does a guitarist accompany a voice as powerful as Beth Hart’s? It can’t be an easy task. In fact, it might be tempting for a collaborating six-stringer to simply stay out of the way of Hart’s Panzer tank of a voice. But Joe Bonamassa, rather that limiting himself to a supporting role, rises to the challenge of facing his collaborator lick-for-lick. The result is a stunning combination of voices, both compelling in their own way.

Having collaborated on several projects before, the pair sound like they’ve matured together wonderfully, anticipating each other’s phrases and occasionally taunting each other. The album’s standout track is the gospel shouter ‘Saved,’ but the whisftful ‘Lullaby of the Leaves’ offers a breathtaking change of pace.

Joe Bonamassa

5. Buddy Guy – The Blues is Alive and Well

Anyone who says they are too old to do something should look at our living blues legend, Buddy Guy. At 82 years old, Buddy Guy has released his 18th solo studio record after living one of the most legendary blues careers in history. From Muddy Waters to Junior Wells, Guy has played with a who’s who list of musicians and has influenced Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and a host of other blues masters. On his latest offering released in June, Buddy exclaims a statement that is true in his case and in general, “The Blues is Alive and Well.” Sometimes when a seasoned musician releases an album at this stage in the game, we do not anticipate much, and reviewers tend to tip-toe around hoping not to offend a legendary musician. But, with this album, Buddy Guy proves that age is only a number as he is on top of his game in every aspect. According to reviewer Steven Ovadia, “Buddy Guy brings it on each and every track. Any blues fan will truly love this album.”

6. Jimmie Vaughan Trio – Live at C-Boy’s

Hip Blues Blast readers are in the know about who Jimmie Vaughan is and his importance to the Blues world. But, for any uninitiated, Jimmie Vaughan is one of the greatest Blues guitarist of all time. Throughout his long influential career he has been a torchbearer (along with contemporaries such as Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard and John Primer) for clear authentic electric guitar sound.

Vaughan’s Blues is a Texas hybrid of R&B, shuffling two-step and greasy Chicago, with a hint of New Orleans groove for seasoning. Jimmie developed this style early on with musical partner Kim Wilson in The Fabulous Thunderbirds and has grown and innovated since he started his solo career in the early 90’s.

Картинки по запросу Jimmie Vaughan Trio – Live at C-Boy’s

7. Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper – No Mercy

The collaboration between Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper works much better than it should on paper. Coming from slightly different backgrounds, Harper and Musselwhite blend together perfectly. Harper’s gently style of playing and singing threads seamlessly into Musselwhite’s approach. The result is one of the more memorable releases of the past few years.

The relentless stomp of ‘Moving On’ stands out most, but after repeated listenings the subtle charm of the ballad ‘Nothing At All’ sneaks up on a listener. No Mercy is a must-own for fans of either Musslewhite or Harper.

No Mercy

8. Fantastic Negrito – Please Don’t Be Dead

Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has had a troubled and significantly rough life in various ways. With his impressive musical offerings and successful business venture in his record label, he is proving that it is never too late to realize your dreams and turn your life around. His first release, The Last Days of Oakland earned Negrito a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2017. With his second offering, Please Don’t Be Dead, the trending musician addresses rough patches in his life including a near-fatal car accident that left him in a long-lasting coma and quite literally flipped his life around. His music is impactful, thought provoking, and simply amazing.

9. David Lumsden & Friends – Hues of the Blues

The former Hurricane Ruth guitar player David Lumsden ventures out on his own  after spending 2011 to 2017 with Ruth.  He brings together a group of friends to support him as guest artists with these 12 songs.

Lumsden became enamored with music at age six with “Peter Gunn” theme. He got his first guitar at ten and followed the British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds.  By age fifteen (1970) he heard Freddie King’s “Getting Ready” album and the blues have been his love ever since.

Картинки по запросу David Lumsden & Friends – Hues of the Blues

10. Roosevelt Collier – Exit 16

Roosevelt Collier’s latest release is the blues at its funkiest. The album may be of little interest to those who not seeking an innovative rhythmic approach to the genre. But if combining a searing slide guitar with a wide range of funky beats and hard-edged soul is your cup of tea, Exit 16 is your album.

As with many instrumental albums there are times when Collier’s approach gets a little tedius, and to be sure, teaming up with a vocalist may have added some needed punch, but all in all, Exit 16 is just what it aims to be: a strong jab of funky blues.

Roosavelt Collier

11. Elvin Bishop – Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here

Elvin Bishop might be a rather obscure name to many, but in the blues guitar community, he is considered a living legend. He is known as the original guitarist in Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band and played alongside fellow guitarist Mike Bloomfield. He has also cultivated an impressive solo career, releasing 21 studio albums since 1969. Both a Rock and Roll Hall and Blues Hall of Famer, Bishop is still going strong and demonstrates his prowess on Something Smells Funky. Coming off their Grammy-nominated album in 2017, Bishop and his “Big Fun Trio” offer an energetic and tasteful blues album.

12. AJ Ghent – Neo Blues Project

AJ Ghent’s The Neo Blues Project is an aptly named album. By fusing the blues with contemporary sounds (R&B, hip-hpp, rock) his approach is genuinely novel. But his new approach doesn’t sacrifice anything a blues lover adores about the genre. The resulut is a stunning rediscovery of of something that’s been around for ages.

‘Power,’ is appropriately the most powerful tracks, but there’s a great deal of evidence that Ghent is at his best when working with a lighter touch. The sweet ballad ‘Long Lost Friend’ is Ghent at his lightest and most intimate.

AJ Ghent

13. Artur Menezes – Keep Pushing

Artur Menezes is a generally unknown powerhouse rock and blues musician who has offered his talents to musicians like Joe Satriani and several blues artists. Honestly, I was unaware of Menezes until the 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive Cruise where he was a guest of Josh Smith. His technical skills on the guitar were instantly noticeable, keeping up with the seasoned Smith and Kirk Fletcher. Hopefully his third full-length album is the spark the Brazilian bluesman needs to get his name out there!

14. Marcus Lazarus – This Life

Marcus Lazarus is a guitar player/singer/songwriter based near London, UK though this album was recorded at Alessandro Cristofori’s studio in Tuscany, Italy.

Marcus wrote all bar one of the songs and handles guitar and vocals with Lee Herbert on drums, Johnny Heywood on bass/BV’s and Alessandro on keys; Jez Arden-White adds second guitar/BV’s on seven tracks, Guido Pietrella replaces Johnny on bass on three tracks, Daria Tanasenko plays sitar and Laura Mowforth is also on backing vocals. Marcus appears to have released one previous album in 2017 and an EP in 2013; the material here ranges across rock, soul, Americana and blues.

15. Victor Wainwright and the Train

It makes perfect sense that Victor Wainwright would name his support band the Train. The group packs the relentless puch of a locomotive – even as they cruise through softer, gentler tracks. Wainwright’s use of humor is best on display on ‘Money’ — although ‘Boogie Depression’ comes in a close second.

The album’s best love song is a tribute to B.B. King called Lucille, an ode to B.B. faithful guitar. Wainwright and company have carved out a niche for themselves in the blues world that any fan of the genre must appreciate.

 Victor Wainwright and the Train

16. Dana Fuchs – Love Lives On

Dana Fuchs’ troubling life and subsequent experiences have primed her to be a warranted and talented blues musician. Her soulful voice matches her emotional lyrics very well and have helped to garner her a successful music career. Besides her seven albums, Fuchs was also part of the cast and accompanying soundtrack in the 2007 movie Across The Universe. Her May 18th release, Love Lives On, goes from heart-wrenching soul to straight driving blues-rock and never lets up. Make sure to put Ms. Fuchs on your radar.

17. Reverend Shaun Amos – Breaks It Down

The cover of Breaks It Down seems like an homage to the past of blues albums, and delightfully, the same could be said of the album itself. But the good Reverend’s release is no relic. It sounds as fresh as something that could have been released this morning.

The best news of Breaks It Down is how truly spiritual it sounds — without getting preachy. Not an unimpressive feat for a blues belting Reverend.

Shawn Amos

18. Joe Bonamassa – British Blues Explosion

It is no secret that Joe has an affinity for British blues guitar players; don’t we all? On his live album from England, Joe pays homage to three of his all-time favorite living British blues legends, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton. In true Bona-fashion, Joe rips it on every tune with a superb band backing him up. I must warn you though, after listening to this album, you are gonna want to see him live in action!

19. Marcia Ball – Shine Bright

Shine Bright is a sweet, uplifting album that combines gospel and blues in a way that might have seemed blasphemous decades ago. At its best the result works beatifully and should be of appeal to fans of either genre.

Marcia Ball’s voice has seen better days, but that’s a minor problems. Songs like ‘I Got to Find Somebody’ and ‘Life of the Party’ are awfully fine tracks on an otherwise uneven effort.

Marcia Ball

20. Boz Scaggs – Out of the Blues

For more than 50 years, Boz Scaggs has been in the popular music limelight, working with bands like Steve Miller and Toto and carrying on a widely successful solo career. Scaggs has been consistently releasing new music with his blues-eyed soul and soothing elements. Out of the Blues is one of his most in your face blues records in a while, presenting blaring horns, tinkling piano, and string-bending guitar solos. Very solid effort by Mr. Scaggs!

21. Brian Holden – Drivin’

Drivin’ makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel. It’s a straight-ahead blues album that rocks hard enough for fans of rock and roll. The standout tracks are ‘I Been Waiting’ and ‘Smokin’ Hot.’

To be sure, there are more gifted singers in the blues world than Holden, but his imperfect voice has its charm and by the album’s end, it has grown on the listener like a raggedy pair of slippers.

Brian Holden

22. Luke Winslow-King – Blue Mesa

Luke Winslow King loves old school music and is a self-described “music traditionalist.” He has been playing guitar since he was a young kid and graduated from school with a major in jazz guitar. His love for music has taken him all over the world and various cities in the US where he has worked as a music therapist and studied all aspects of music. This eclectic love of various styles has translated into an expansive sound on his records, spanning from folk and Americana to rock, jazz, and blues. His sixth album, Blue Messa has songs for all sorts of music fans from the easy listening of “You Got Mine” to the twangy “Born To Roam” and gritty blues on “Thought I Heard You.” King is a true professional musician who loves his craft.

23. Tinsley Ellis – Winning Hand

Raised in the deep south and inspired by a combination of the blues and the British invasion bands popular during his youth, Tinsley Ellis’s influences are as alive in his sound as they would have been when he was learning to play as a kid. Songs like ‘Kiss This World’ and ‘Gamblin’ Man’ are tinged with the kind of raw blues that Ellis’ buzzsaw voice is best suited for, but there’s also a softer, more sensitive side audible on the melodic ‘Autumn Run.’

‘Don’t Turn off the Light’ is the album’s strongest track, displaying both sides his musical persona. Here Ellis stretches his limited vocal range as far as he can, showing the kind of vulnerability and tenderness rarely heard in the blues. Winning Hand is worth owning whether you’re a longtime fan on Tinsley Ellis or just discovering him.

Tinsley Ellis

24. R.L. Boyce– Ain’t Gonna Play Too Long

Boyce has been in and around the blues scene since the 1960’s when he played drums for various bands including his uncle, Othar Turner. He went virtually unknown until 2007 when he released his debut album Ain’t The Man’s Alright when he was 52. Then last year, his release Roll and Tumble was nominated for the Traditional Blues Grammy Award. Now, at 63 Boyce has delivered his third album with his brand of rough old-style blues he learned from Hill country bluesmen like R.L. Burnside. His voice or guitar playing isn’t the prettiest or flashiest, but it is pure and from his heart.

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