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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cleopatra Records artist: Kenny Neal - I'll Be Home For Christmas - New release review

I just received the newest release, I'll Be Home For Christmas from Kenny Neal and it has a bit of blues mixed into it's traditional and modern Christmas. Opening with upbeat 12 bar number, Christmas Comes But Once A Year, Neal takes the lead on vocal and harp with Vestie Jackson on guitar, Darnell Neal on piano, Frederick Neal on keys and Bryan Morris on drums. With a slower pace classic Christmas ballad, Silver Bells gets a R&B, Ray Charles flavor. Neal does a real nice job on lead vocals and guitar backed by Darnell, Fredrick and Bryan. Next up is a rolling version of Winter Wonderland featuring Syreeta Neal on lead vocal, Kenny on harp and guitar, and Kenny Neal Jr on bass and drums. Very nice! Syreeta does a real nice job on Merry Little Christmas backed by Joel Joseph on piano. On Please Come Home For Christmas, Kenny is back up front on lead vocal and guitar, backed by Fredrick on piano, Bryan on drums and Vestie and Darnell on guitars. Kenny's guitar solo on this track is particularly clean and soulful. Very nice! I'll Be Home For Christmas gets a real homey makeover as I would picture Al Green doing. Neal, on lead vocal, guitar and harp, really hits to groove on this one, backed by Fredrick on piano, Darnell on bass and Bryan on drums. Definitely one of my personal favorites. Merry Christmas Baby#2 is a funky shuffle with a hot bass line thanks to Darnell. Fredrick rattles the piano with hot rhythm and Kenny covers lead vocals and plays some really fine guitar riffs making this one of the bluesiest tracks on the release (think funky BB King). Lazy blues track, Lonesome Christmas, has a cool bass line and Taj Mahal kind of delivery by Neal. Fredrick's piano work is tight and Bryan's drumming precise. Merry Christmas Baby #1 has a really nice T-Bone Walker kind of feel with expressive blues guitar riffs from Kenny. One of my favorite tracks on the release, you get so caught up in the bluesy feel, you forget you're listening to a Christmas track. On the traditional, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Syreeta is back on lead vocal, backed by Joel Joseph on keys. This is a very nice arrangement and should replace some of the moldy versions that are played year after year. Wrapping the release is a rocking blues version of Silent Night. Syreeta is back at the mic on lead vocal and Kenny lays in some relaxing guitar riffs cushioned by Joseph on keys. A real nice conclusion to a solid contemporary seasonal release!

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