The Lucas Haneman Express hails from Ottawa. Haneman is a visually impaired guitarist/vocalist/songwriter who has a degree in jazz studies and who won an Oscar Peterson Scholarship to do so. He has now decided to write original material, using his background to take blues in some non-traditional directions. The non-traditional directions include an awareness of current sensitivity to malefemale relationships. The Express includes Jeff Asselin on drums, Martin Newman on bass and Megan Lawrence on additional vocals. This talented group has some very good musical ideas. Other people like them as well: they represented Ottawa at last year’s IBCs and apparently scored well. “The Verdict” in question is his girl’s opinion about him. Steve Marriner guests on harp, with tempo changes making for a very effective opener. Marriner is back on “Run To You”, doubling Haneman’s guitar intro – a song about our narrator’s two girlfriends. Marriner contributes a great stop time solo. “Blind Man’s Blues” is an attractive shuffle that lets us in on some of a visually impaired person’s perceptions, details that I think are not often shared. He solos wonderfully here.“Scrabble” might well be called ‘thesaurus’ for the all the rhymes he uses looking for the right words to tell her he’s falling in love. “That’s The Truth” is a very good slow blues with Haneman and Lawrence alternating verses about the two sides of a relationship, Haneman accusing her of being unfaithful and Lawrence defending. They sing in unison on the chorus that they each want to continue the relationship – unusual and effective. Haneman rips off a soaring guitar solo too. These are the bluesiest songs but several others deserve mention: “Firestorm” is a feature for Megan Lawrence, an ambitious statement full of tempo and key changes. Haneman sings throughout the album about relationships from the male point of view – he clearly felt the need to give the other side a platform, and Lawrence delivers it well. “Magic Carpet Ride” is the Steppenwolf song written by Mars Bonfire and while this is a fine version, I couldn’t keep the original out of my mind. “Working Band” is a flat out rocker about how much they love this life. Jesse Whiteley adds some very effective organ. Let’s hope nobody messes with that master plan! The web site is www.lhexpress.com.

John’s Blues Picks January 2016 – Holly Hyatt & Jon Burden
John’s Blues Picks January 2016 – Debra Power