John’s Blues Picks June 2015 – Bob Walsh “After The Storm”
Bob Walsh “After The Storm” (BROS) | bros.ca/…/bob-walsh |
Maple Blues Award winner Bob Walsh follows up There’s A Story Here with another album of wide-ranging song choices. After The Storm also showcases Walsh’s fabulous voice with arrangements that make the song selection seem logical. Jean Fernand Girard is the man responsible for that and he has added a horn section to his palette. A song not recently covered as much as it has been starts off: a rousing version of “Smack Dab in the Middle.” It has some lovely tempo changes and solid solos from harpman Guy Bélanger and Girard’s B3.
The song writing team of B.A. Markus & Michael Jerome Browne return with three: first a delightful “If Memphis Don’t Kill Me” done up in a jazzy style blended with harmonica and acoustic slide, bringing to mind the Harlem Hamfats. “Dance With Me” is by Ray Bonneville and while you can recognize his style, the arrangement (especially for the horns) takes it to a different place entirely. Walsh’s superb vocals are featured on “That Lucky Old Sun”, backed by just piano & brushes. “G20 Rag” is the second MJB song, he was visiting here for that event and Walsh/Girard take the rag part of the title to heart. It’s a delightful tune and a subject worth hearing about again.
Quebec songwriter Dale Boyle contributed “Sorry John Henry”, a horn driven rocker whose narrator is not going to die on the job, it’s a different world now a highlight among highlights. MJB’s third song is “Graveyard Blues”, a song confronting death, with in this arrangement, tombstone tom-toms and slide guitar. Doc Pomus famously wrote “Lonely Avenue” and Walsh delivers a wonderful vocal. The arrangement is very different from Ray Charles’ version, which is probably the one you’re most familiar with. Great horns and harp. Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” is a song I’m not familiar with but it sure sounds good here. Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade” and Procul Harem’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” are obvious Walsh favourites.
The one Bob Walsh original concludes the program, a ballad for Maddy called “After The Storm” that thanks her for standing by his side during his recent heart surgery. With just acoustic guitar & harmonica, it’s a lovely song. Bélanger’s work on this disc deserves special mention and the rest of the band, Christian Martin on guitar, Jean Cyr on bass and Bernard Deslaurieres on drums once again prove they can handle arrangements in any style.