When I first read about this artist I wasn’t sure what to expect. Lyle Odjick grew up on the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin Reserve in Quebec, with little or no exposure to live music or the blues. He moved to Ottawa and immersed himself in the blues scene there, starting out playing as a side man, before deciding to open his own shop. 

I was told this was a much delayed debut album from a self taught harmonica player, so I went into it with an open mind, When some blues purists look at this album I’m sure it’ll easy for them to categorize it as a ‘good debut effort’ or an ‘Indigenous blues’, but “Through the Rain” is neither and both.

It is a tribute to the power of the blues to inspire a young man to learn, to expand his musical horizons and take the leap of faith to become a working, writing and recording musician.

After an exhaustive search, the Northern Steam were constructed including Ben Griggs (Guitar), Fred Sebastian (Drums) and Sean McGee (Keyboards). They went into the studio with a select group of guest players and came out with 10 great blues / rock cuts (8 Originals and 2 Covers). 

The album opens with a wonderful harp piece that mimic’s a train, designed to get the blood pumping and the toes tapping. Building in tempo and power, like a locomotive on the tracks, it pulls you into the station and sets you up for the next cut.

The second cut, “Cut Me Loose”, is a standard sounding blues, much as you would expect to hear in a downtown Chicago haunt on a steamy summer night. An indication of the solid foundation Lyle has built for himself musically, it eases the listener into the sonic landscape that is Lyle Odjick & the Northern Steam.

Up next is the first cover on the album, as Lyle takes on “Leaving Trunk” (popularized by Taj Mahal). A funky groove with cool blues undertones. It also features some fabulous and atmospheric harmonica that solidifies Lyle Odjick as a harpist to watch out for..

The fourth cut on the album is the sweet and somewhat sad blues, with a smoky atmosphere, “I Wanna Hold You”. Right at home in a dark and smoky bar, bathed in the scent of sweat, lust and sweet perfume, it ambles along pulling the listener in.

The next cut “Harpin and Howlin”, is a straight up Harp driven shuffle, with power to spare. Each player, in his turn, takes the spotlight, in this fun jump. Try not tapping your toes to this one… It’s impossible!

The sixth cut, “Bad for You” is anything but! Reminiscent of the sixties sound, it holds the listener much akin to Dutch Mason’s “Polke Salad Annie” or 8 Ball Aitkens “Yellow Moon”. Medicinal music that is good for the soul.

Up next, “Devil Man’s Dues” is a down and dirty blues with it’s feet solidly planted at the crossroads at midnight. The deals we make for the ideas we desire underscore this great cut. 

Cut number eight is “Broken Man”. As the title indicates, this is a slow blues about being alone and lonely. One tip of the hat for this cut has to be to guitarist Ben Griggs, who takes the lead and just runs with it, creating a brilliant interplay with the harp. This is the kind of music you cannot help but love.

Up next is the title track which represents all the trials, people and ideals behind this recording. “Through the Rain” is a moment in time. Lyle Odjick at this point in his musical journey. Powerful and catchy right from the start, it is a clear indication of the this artists strengths as built through the paths he has walked getting to this point.

The second cover on the album “Rock This House” closes it out and features Tony D (MonkeyJunk) on lead guitar. You can feel the ghost of Jimmy Rogers in the room, in every note and nuance of this cut, a perfect closer for a cool album.

Like many debut CD’s, this album shows the potential of Lyle Odjick, giving a voice to a bright future. (Terry Parsons)