Steve Strongman chose his Blues Summit Showcase to introduce his new album. Much the same crew is on board, with Rob Szabo producing, playing bass, keyboards & percussion (he also co-wrote the songs); Dave King is back on drums. Alec Fraser also played bass and Adam Warner, drums, and Jesse O’Brien also adds keyboards. Strongman spends much of the press release talking about the sound they achieved in recording the guitar parts and I’m sure you’ll agree that it was worth every minute, especially for the blending of acoustic and electric guitars. The title song and lead off single is the first track, a high-energy anthem that urges you to make the most of the moment. The grinding “Bring The Hammer Down” delivers an unmistakable ultimatum. The slide-driven swamp rocker “Money In The Bank” is a keeper. With its pounding drums and powerful backup vocals, it makes for an unusual love song. The one cover is a telling indication of what he wanted to do with this album in that he asked Randy Bachman if he could record “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and not only did Randy say yes, he offered to play on it. He takes the searing solo. A gospel chorus opens “Love Love Love” for a major change of style but this heartfelt rave up is another highlight. “I’m A Man” is a slab of contemporary R&B, complete with falsetto vocals and references to the Muddy Waters hit. “Old School” is exactly that, a paean to traditional blues, with a bit of autobiography thrown in. The song itself is not old school but an excellent 21st century blues. Strongman plays slide and harp. “Good Times” shuts down the wall of guitars for a harp-led, largely acoustic rumination about where all the good times have gone. He rips off a fine electric solo though. “Sometimes” is an intriguing ballad, with acoustic guitar, percussion and an electric guitar in the distance. The love song “The Day They Carry Me Away” is an even slower power ballad, beautifully sung and arranged, I’m sure it will find more uses than the one Strongman intended. With two JUNOs on his mantle and multiple MBA awards, this tremendous new album is a serious contender for more awards even in this young year. The CD Release Party is at Mills Hardware, 95 King St. E. Hamilton on March 3. The Party here is at The Rivoli on Thursday, March 9 with special guests. The web site is www.stevestrongman.com.

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