Carlos del Junco says that it’s seven years since his last Mongrels album, where does the time go. A gorgeous acoustic album is what we get here, with Eric St. Laurent on guitar and Henry Heilig on bass, both longtime accompanists. He calls the program ‘an eclectic potpourri of styles’ with five vocals followed by five instrumentals. We start off with “Alberta Hunter”, a Kevin Breit composition. Carlos actually sings ‘Alberta Blues’ and the song seems to be about an Alberta couple with the woman leaving for Halifax. Breit adds multi-tracked mandolin, St. Laurent does some very fine finger picking, Carlos adds a little harmonica and Jimmy Bowskill sings harmony vocals – very nice. “(Please) Hang On (To Me)” is also one Breit provided, a tender love song that Carlos sings wonderfully, St. Laurent is on slide and Bowskill again on harmony vocals. I’ve not heard an acoustic version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” before but this version works very well indeed. On the past two songs, Carlos used his harmonica for some very effective fills on what are primarily vocal performances but this is the song on which Carlos contributes his hi-performance harmonica. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Ribbon Of Darkness” gets a surprisingly bluesy performance here, Carlos crediting Rick Fines’ version as a starting point (It’s on Fines’ Solar Powered). There is also more bluesy harmonica work on this one including a lovely introduction and a powerful solo. The final vocal is Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl”, again a very bluesy version, courtesy of St. Laurent’s fine slide work. Henry Heilig’s acoustic bass beautifully underpins all five of these songs. The instrumentals allow the magic of the trio to shine: “No Fool Horse” is another Breit composition and he’s a guest on twelve string resonator for this one, this is my favourite of the five but the others also showcase the virtuosity of the players. The CD launch is in Port Hope, where Carlos now resides, a 75 minute drive from downtown Toronto, on May 12 at the Port Hope United Church at 24 South St. There is no local show until December but the CD or download is available now at www.carlosdeljunco.com.

May 2018 - Michael Kaeshammer
May 2018 - David Vest