Electro-Fi Records knows how to celebrate anniversaries. This is their 20th year and 2016 JUNO Award winner Harrison Kennedy starts it off in style. He’s brought some famous friends along: Jimmy Bowskill, Jack de Keyzer, Julian Fauth and Alec Fraser. From that list you might think this is a band album, not so. Harrison plays his banjo and adds amplified harp this time, guitar, spoons and tambourine. Jimmy Bowskill plays mandolin & fiddle, Jack, electric & acoustic guitars and Julian, piano when they appear. Which brings us to his wonderful new songs: In the second-last song, “Takin’ It Back”, Harrison sings most eloquently about taking back the blues and he does that in several ways. One group of songs reflects earlier days, “Hummin’ Blues”, “County Party Line”, Mountain Stomp” and “Long Pants”, simpler times, country dances and picnics with lots of blues music. Another group is more current, “Doctors In Hard Hats” deals with the hard life of today’s poor, forced to live in rough areas where visitors need extra protection. In “Afraid To Fail” he sings about those who are too close to hunger or jail. Jack’s electric guitar is very effective on this one. Or “Keep Your Coat On”, we’re not staying here. “Who U Tellin’?” is the perfect uptempo opener, with Harrison on banjo & harp, Bowskill on mandolin and Fraser on cigar box bass. There may not be a better song about what it means to be a bluesman. “Heavy Load” does have everyone playing on a beautifully written slow blues, protesting (too much) that what bothers him is not the blues, just a heavy load. “Blues Solution” is Harrison’s proposal for the world’s problems. Jack on electric and Jimmy on fiddle make for a  joyous anthem. The concluding “Patches” is a half-spoken, half-sung version of the Clarence Carter hit, underlining the theme of too many in poverty and the need to keep trying. Living Blues magazine says ‘Harrison Kennedy is a modern blues master of true substance’. This new album is all the proof you need. Two web sites to keep in mind: www.harrisonkennedy.ca and www.electrofi.com. Who U Tellin’? will be released on May 19.

John's Blues Picks May 2017 - Terry Gillespie
Loose Blues News - May 2017