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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jimmy Thackery - Wide Open - New Release Review - Stilladog (Guest reviewer)

Wide Open. What a perfect name for the newest release by Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers! This album knows no boundaries and is in fact wide open to whatever Thackery was inspired to record. And his inspiration took two years to come to fruition. He began writing for this album back in 2012 with final recording finally wrapping in April of this year. There's something here for many musical tastes, as long as it's not too far from the blues/jazz/rock vein. In fact it is so diverse that listening to the album from start to finish makes it seem disjointed at times. But that does not diminish the quality. For when a song is good, it's very very good. When it's not, it's still very listenable. Two tracks had been previously released for download from iTunes, the blues-rocker Hard Luck Man and the melancholy Someone Who's Crying Tonight. And while I would consider Hard Luck Man very good and one of many highlights on this release, Someone Who's Crying Tonight is just OK. So what's good about it you say? Well if you are a fan of the DC guitar masters Roy Buchanan or Danny Gatton, Thackery delivers Pondok which is an instrumental that has elements of both artist's styles. Thackery, then guitarist for the Nighthawks, emerged as the King of Washington DC guitar after Gatton and Buchanan passed and he obviously learned from both. It is the last track on the release and it's laid back tempo belies some of the guitar artistry Thackery displays. OK so now you know how it ends, lets go back to the beginning. The album starts off with Change Your Tune a jazz infused swing with vocals and is followed by a beautiful jazz influenced instrumental in a minor key called Minor Step. I must confess, Minor Step is one of my favorite tracks on the album. But quickly Jimmy gets the Drivers to switch gears to a real blues called Coffee & Chicken. This tune pays homage to anyone who ever ate a bucket of Kentucky Fried and strong coffee for breakfast. For the humorous minded there's King of Livin' On My Own which could darn near be a country tune. It makes you realize there's a whole lot of truth in humor. If you like a slow gut-wrenching blues, then You Brush Me Off is for you. Thackery gives Ronnie Earl a run for his money in the slow blues instrumental category on this one. I'd say this is by far the favorite cut on the album of my wife, the fabulous Mrs. Dog. It's right up there for me too. Some extremely tasteful guitar on this track, not flashy, but just right. What can I say? You need to hear it. Thackery then returns to blues-rock again with Keepin' My Heart From Breakin'. This is closer to what you may have come to expect from Jimmy's earlier albums with The Drivers. With Swingin' Breeze, Jimmy returns to the jazz style that started the album. It's the kind of song you might expect on a Duke Robillard or Herb Ellis album and it's refreshing to hear Thackery play in this style. Run Like The Wind is done acoustically and is a haunting ballad with blues connotations. These are all original compositions. I believe it's the first Jimmy Thackery album that does not contain a cover tune of any sort. I go way back with Jimmy Thackery. back to the Psyche-Delly (Bethesda, MD), Rewster's Roost (Taylorsville, MD), and 8X10 Club (Baltimore, MD) even Heinz Hall (Pittsburgh, PA) days. And I believe this is an honest and true statement of where Jimmy is in his life right now. Wide Open is not an album made for commercial success (what blues album is these days except Joe Bonamassa releases?) but it's like an abstract piece of art. With that I'd recommend that you take a listen. There's surely something in there that will speak to you.  

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