This is JP LeBlanc’s first album in 15 years, and man, was it worth waiting for. The native of Bathurst, New Brunswick was somewhat of a young prodigy, infected by the blues at the age of 11, picking up guitar and joining high-powered jams as a teenager and recording his first CD at the age of 21.

Now in his mid-thirties, LeBlanc has created an album that shows great chops, vocals and most of all, a great feeling for the blues. No wonder, much of it was recorded with his mentor Joe Murphy, a legendary Atlantic Canada performer who started off with the great Dutch Mason nearly 50 years ago. Lots of growling harp here, tasty slide guitar and passionate vocals.

LeBlanc was once dubbed the “Baby Stevie Ray Vaughan,” but he has obviously gone much deeper into the well of Delta blues. On “Aberdeen,” he starts off spare and moaning, accompanied only by playing slide on his National-style steel guitar before the band kicks in at a rollicking tempo. It’s great to hear clean acoustic guitar over a full rhythm section. On “Get Ready,” he plays some mean acoustic licks over a relentless shuffle. The Piedmont influence is evident even on a cover version of “Folsom Prison Blues.” 

Recorded at Sand Reed Studio in Petit-Rocher, NB and at Michael Reid Studio in Halifax, this album should get recognition from blues fans far from the Maritimes. (Mike Sadava)