Sep 02, 2016 02:19 PM EDT | Mike Greenblatt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lew Jetton & 61 South's third effort, Rain (Coffee Street Records), fulfills the promise of State Line Blues and Tales From A 2 Lane, for it is here where Jetton really puts it all together on eight originals and two covers -- John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain" and Allen Toussaint's "It's Raining."
The band is sterling, aided and abetted by seasoned pros but held together by Jetton himself, an engaging singer/songwriter who takes from the blues tradition yet adds immeasurably his own thing.
Jetton goes deeper compositionally than many of his peers. Although this band has to be seen in a bar to be truly appreciated, a song like "Lay Me Down" is as touching to the heart as "Glory Train" is to the mind and soul. "Move On Yvonne" is downright funny. Opener "Who's Texting You" is topical.
The band has been together off and on for the better part of 20 years. If Johnny Winter went to New Orleans to live for awhile, and vacationed in Chicago, this is what he might sound like.
Alonzo Pennington is a guitar monster on three of 10. Piano player J. Solon Smith can tickle the ivories (on four tracks) like Jerry Lee Lewis. Miranda Louise used to croon for Lonnie Mack. Here, she spices up the gumbo on two tracks like Merry Clayton did in 1969 for the Stones on "Gimme Shelter." J.D. Wilkes blows a big bad blues harp like James Cotton on two tracks. And give Jetton credit for going above and beyond by having the righteous preacher Reverend Joann Green give forth some spoken-word holy benediction just like on her Paducah Kentucky "Words To Ponder" WDXR-AM radio show.
Call it Progressive Blues.
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