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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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Showing posts with label Johnny lee Schell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnny lee Schell. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Blue Heart Records artist: Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps - Rose-Colored Glasses Vol.1

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (September 17, 2021), Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 1, by Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps and it's a smooth blend of blues, rock and R&B styles. Opening with Show Me How You Do It, Teresa James on keys and lead vocals shows why her newest releases are widely anticipated. With Yates McKendree putting up some real nice lead guitar, and backed by Jay Bellerose on drums, Kevin McKendree on B3, Paulie Cerra on sax,  this is a solid opener. R&B flavored title track, Rose-Colored Glasses, really has a nice feel that I would expect to garner strong airplay with some nice slide guitar work by James Pennebaker. With a cocky strut, Wish It Into The Cornfield features Anson Funderburgh playing up the guitar starch and McKendree's B3 giving flow under the horn work of Cerra. Goes without saying that James has a natural voice for this and she really works it on this track. Really nice. Dean Parks, well known session man, pops up on Once The World Stops Ending, adding some hot punctuation under some of the best vocal blending on the release. Darrell Leonard on trumpet and Richard Millsap on percussion add some nice juice on this track making it one of my favorites on the release. Soul track, When My Baby Comes Home is another solid entry with strong vocals by James and the addition of Michael Starr on violin, viola and cello. Wrapping the release is Gimme Some Skin driven by heavy tom tom work by Bellerose and with some cool, stylized guitar work by David Millsap, punched up by Leonard on trumpet. Cool closer. 


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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

VizzTone Label Group artist: Deb Ryder - Memphis Moonlight - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (June 11, 2021), Memphis Moonlight, by Deb Ryder and it's a cool, R&B based blues release packed with talent. Opening with I'm Coming Home, a sassy R&B track features Ryder on lead vocal with Tony Braunagel on drums, Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, Mike Finnigan on B3, Travis carlton on bass, Mark Pender on trumpet and some super sax riffs from Joe Sublet. Cool opener. With a bluesier feel and a touch of gospel on These Hands, Ryder really hits the groove vocally and Alastair Green's addition on slide is a super perk. Schell's backing vocals and the addition of Pieter Van Der Pluijm on harmonica adds real texture. Driving rocker, Blues Is All I Got had a solid bass line by Schell andwith Braunagel on drums and van Der Pluijm on harmonica. Classic slow blues, Love Is Gone is a real standout giving Ryder a chance to show the richness of her vocals and featuring the king of blues guitar phrasing, Ronnie Earl, with a nice extended solo. Just Be Careful is another uptempo blues number with Schell on lead slide guitar and Ryder working the blues nicely. Second Chances is a cool track with country influences with the addition of Joey Delgado on guitar, Steve Delgado on backing vocal, David Hidalgo on accordion and Steve berlin on sax. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Most of All a smooth ballad, again playing into the strength of Ryder's vocal strength and with Ronnie Earl playing melodic lead guitar to a very simple bottom with Braunagel, Schell and carlton on bass. Very nice closer. 


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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Crawling Spider: A Tribute to Mike Montgomery Vol.1: The LA Sessions - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Crawling Spider: A Tribute To Mike Montgomery Vol.1: The LA Sessions. The release was compiled by Marlon Montgomery, son of Back Street Crawler keyboardist and composer, Mike Montgomery who passed in 1991 of lung cancer. Opening with Survivor,  featuring Robbie Wyckoff on lead vocal, Billy Watts and Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, Tony Braunagel on drums, Terry Wilson on bass and Adam MacDougall on keys, this is a solid rocker. It's A Long Way Down is a cool British style blues rocker with a strong Bad Company feel. Lead vocals by Wyckoff and great backing vocal by Teresa James and Terry Wilson along with Braunagel make this track a standout. 99 Days is a straight up rocker along the lines of the Stones and Mark Campbell has the mic with cool slide work by Schell and Adam MacDougall on keys. All The Girls Are Crazy (Flood The Engine) has a real swagger with a great guitar vamp by Bill Leverty and lead vocal by Jimmy Kunes. King Of The Mountain has more of a Bowie feel with Mike Montgomery on lead vocal and keys. Backed by Brian Robertson on guitars, Paul Thompson on drums and Jimmy Bain on bass, cool Brit rocker. Another track with a great Bowie feel is Sidekick To The Stars with Montgomery on vocal, and the same line up on instrumentation. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Can't Be So Bad with Montgomery accompanying himself on piano. This is a solid tribute to Mike Montgomery and a lot of fun. 


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Monday, June 29, 2020

SeaSpeed Productions artist; Evelyn Rubio - Crossing Borders - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Crossing Borders, from Evelyn Rubio and it's a solid blues/R&B effort with with a lot of radio appeal. Opening with One More Last Time, a sassy R&B number with super lead vocals by Rubio and Lori Michelle on backing vocal. The band features David Grissom on guitar, Kirk Covington on drums, Zach Person on guitar, Red Young on keys and Larry Fulcher on bass. Very nice. Just Like A Drug is another track that screams for radio attention with it's Latin rhythm and complimentary guitar lead by Johnny Lee Schell and Rubuio on lead vocal sax. Mike Finnigan joins on keys, Jorge Orta Cro Cro on percussion and Tony Braunagel on drums making this a tight unit. He Did Me Wrong, But Did It Right, is a cool track with just the right amount of bluesy sway. Rubio shines on vocal and sax on one of my favorite tracks on the release. Rubio turns the jazz card with a real swinger, Cruel, where she works it like a pro on vocal with a definite tight sax edge and great organ work by Finnigan. Adding some funk to the mix on What A Way To Go gives this rocker just the right feel with Grissom on guitar and Covington on drums but not taking anything away from Rubio's strong vocals. Wrapping the release is a blues rework of Besame Mucho with really solid acoustic pinnings. With The mighty Orq on slide guitar, Sonny Boy Terry on harp, Fulcher on bass and stomp, Rubio belts out the bluesiest Spanish track you've likely every heard. Solid closer. 

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

VizzTone Label Group artist: Phanton Blues Band - Still Cookin' - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Still Cookin', from Phantom Blues Band, and it's terrific! Opening with a classic R&B track by Wilson Pickett, Don't Fight It (Feel It), this band knows it's strengths and plays into it. With Mike Finnigan (keys), Larry Fulcher (bass) and Johnny Lee Schell (guitars) on lead vocals, this band lays out one of my R&F favorites with strong horn work by Joe Sublett (sax) and Les Lovitt (trumpet) and great rhythm  and Tony Braunagel on drums. What a lineup! Slipping into a New Orleans funk on Wingin' My Way Johnny takes the lead on a strongly Little Feat influenced track (dedicated to Paul Barrere) with solid slide work and a tight horn line. Slow blues, Blues How They Linger, features Finnigan on lead vocal and piano, with light backing. A strong, somber track keeps it low till about half way through when Sublett cuts loose with a real nice sax solo, punctuated by Lovitts trumpet work. Very nice! Reggae track, Shine On, has a great island beat with Lenny Castro joining on percussion and Fulcher and Finnigan on lead vocal. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Latin flavored, Tequila Con Yerba, an excellent, primarily instrumental that makes you squirm in your seat...think Buena Vista. Finnigan, Sublett and Lovitt each get a spot to solo and use them well. Very nice! Shuffle track, I'm Just Your Fool, has a great sway and nicely blended vocals by Johnny with Mike give the track a warm feel. Another strong sax solo by Sublett cements the track and Schell lays in a nice run of his own. Very nice. Wrapping the release is I Was Blind, a quiet ballad featuring Schell on lead vocal, backed by Finnigan. Schell lays in some warm slide work and Finnegan some nice organ work, under the basic melody giving the track a full bottom. This is a solid closer for a really cool release. 

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Big Blue Records artist: Barbara Blue - Fish in dirty H2O - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Fish in dirty H2O, from Barbara Blue and it's solid. Opening with My Heart Belongs To The Blues, Barbara Blue is joined by Will McFarlane on guitar, Dave Smith on bass, Lester Snell on keys and Bernard Purdie on drums. With it's smooth smoky feel, Blue displays the richness of her deep voice. Boogie blues, Accidental Theft features some really nice slide work compliments of Scott Sharrard giving the track a thick gutsy texture to compliment Blues own gutsy vocals. Dr Jesus has a gospel style with warm backing vocals by Maureen Smith, Candace Mache, Lorina McMinn and Lynette "Sue" McCracklin and some spicy guitar accents by Michael Tols.  Shuffle,  Gravy Train has a sparky pace with plenty of horn by Lonnie McMillan on tenor sax, Marc Franklin on trumpet, Jim Spake on bari sax, and Steve Graham on trombone. Another bluesy shuffle, That's Working On Me works really nicely with Blues vocals and tenor sax work by McMillan gives it a jazzy polish. Wrapping the release Blue pulls out Robert Johnson's Come On In My Kitchen and with a slow, spiritual like twist and the warm backing vocals of Mache, McMinn and McCracklin and the B3 of Rick Steff give it a fresh appeal making it an excellent closer.



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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

VizzTone Label Group artist: Deb Ryder - Enjoy The Ride - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Enjoy The Ride, from Deb Ryder and is has a great feel. Opening with high stepper, A Storm's Coming, Deb Ryder is back sounding as powerful as ever. Johnny Lee Schell and Coco Montoya on lead guitar plays nicely off of the steady beat of Ric Ryder on bass, Mike Finnigan on keys and Tony Braunagel on drums. Exceptional ballad, For The Last Time, is a terrific showcase for Ryder's voice and also features Finnigan on vocal as well with the sweet guitar lead of Montoya. What You Want From Me blends New Orleans feel with pure gospel vocals from Maxanne lewis, Ricky Nelson, Leslie Smith and Kudisan Kai Regalot. Very nice. Got To Let It Go has a real nice BB King style groove featuring Cain and Ryder on a cool vocal duet and slick guitar lead. Sweet Sweet Love has a tight Latin beat with nice piano work by Finnigan and featuring fat guitar riffs by Debbie Davies. Wrapping the release is Red Line featuring the strong harp work of Pieter van Der Pluijm. With Schell on bass and lead guitar, this is a solid closer for a solid release. 

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Tommy DarDar - Big Daddy Gumbo - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Big Daddy Gumbo, from Tommy DarDar and it's a healthy helping of swampy gumbo music. Very nice to get this release after DarDar's death in July of 2017. Opening with Johnny Lee Schell's It's Good To Be King, with DarDar on vocal and featuring Johnny Lee Schell on some exciting slide, backed by Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Jon Cleary on piano, Mike Finnigan on keys and DarDar on harp. Great opener. Baby I Can Tell has a great Chicago blues feel with solid bass lines and DarDar's vocals and harp up front. This has a great SB Williamson feel. C'mon Second Line really shows off Braunagel's excellent New Orleans drum styling with solid bass lines by Hutch. Very nice. With pure New Orleans R&B style, Jon Cleary's Let's Both Go Back To New Orleans is a nice showcase for DarDar on vocal, anchored by Cleary's piano rhythm and Hutch's bass. Very nice. The absolute radio track on the release is Dangerous Woman with it's Latin fused R&B feel and strong melodic lyrics, strongly supported by Teresa James, Tommy Lee Bradley, Larry Fulcher and Terry Wilson on backing vocals and a smooth harp solo by DarDar. Shake A Leg is a cool countrified blues rocker with bright piano and bouncy rhythm. Schell snaps in with some real nice country style riffs and DarDar's own harp work is super. Wrapping the release is my favorite track on the release, funky title track, Big Daddy Gumbo with it's infectious rhythm, a super sax vamp by Joe Sublett, excellent slide work by Schell. It's rich backing vocals, big bass lines, funky organ and tight drums make it almost impossible to sit still. Excellent closer! 

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Moondogg Records artist: Johnny Ray Jones - Feet Back In The Door - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Feet Back In The Door, by Johnny Ray Jones and it's quite good. Opening with title track, Feet Back In The Door, Johnny Ray Jones show strong soul roots with a great rhythm and horn section. His vocals are strong, joined by Mike Finnigan on piano, Hutch Hutchinson on bass, and Tony Braunagel on drums and topped off with Joe Sublett on sax, Darrell Leonard on trumpet and Teresa James on backing vocals. Very nice. I really like the bass work on Come Up And See Me Sometime which really carries Finnigan's organ line and sets a cool stage for Jones to strut. Jones' vocals on High Cost Of Loving and Johnny Lee Schell throws down some stinging blues guitar riffs making this one of my favorites on  the release. Z.Z. Hill's, I'm A Blues Man has a great balance of heavy bass, big brass, snappy drums and warm vocals giving Jones and Schell a wide open slate to sing and play. Very nice. Allen Toussaint's A Certain Girl is always a great track with New Orleans flair, and a real nice sax solo by Sublett. The playful vocal interplay is super. Original track, In The Heart Of The City has a real nice melody and Schell's melodic guitar solo further enhances the radio drive on this track. Wrapping the release is Leon Russell's Hearts Have Turned To Stone. Using classic Leon riffs throughout but with his own signature, Jones closes nicely with smart piano flair from Finnigan, nice vocal highlights by James and tight brass punctuation by Leonard.



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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lauren Mitchell - Desire - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Desire, from Lauren Mitchell and it's a fine blend of rock, blues and soul. Opening with I Don't Need Nobody, a light R&B number, Lauren Mitchell is backed by Jim Pugh on keys, Reggie mcBride on bass, Tony braunagel on drums with Darrell Leonard on trumpet, Joe Sublett on sax and Johnny Lee Schell, Josh Sklair and Jose Ramirez on guitar. Pop track with a jazz edge, Soul Music allows Mitchell to show off her vocal skills with Maxanne Lewis, Kudisan Kai, Leslie Smith and Mellodye Perry on smooth backing vocals. Title track, Desire, has a warm country soul feel with deep rich vocals. Steve Fister is featured on slide guitar giving the track a crisp edge. McBride lays down a real nice bass line on Jump Into My Fire with a cool R&B style. Bluesy guitar riffs and sassy vocals give this track real traction. With a basic gospel structure, Good To Me As I Am To You, is an excellent track. Pugh's piano work and super horn work on top of soulful vocals by Mitchell make this the absolute best track on the release. Another track with strong R&B appeal is Feels So Good. Mitchell shows strong vocal richness and with a snappy drum riff and super backing vocals, this track floats. Hi stepper, I Ain't Been (Licked Yet) has real spunk with a tight bottom and punchy horns. Mitchell does a great call and answer with Lewis, Kai, Smith and Perry and a clean guitar solo makes this another tight track. Anti-Love Song is another stand out with a great bass riffs and great vocal style. Nicely woven instrumentals by Braunagel, Pugh and McBride make this another of my favorites on the release. Shuffle track, Bridge Of My Dreams, has a great swing. With tight backing vocals and super bluesy guitar riffs, and a slick piano solo by Pugh, Mitchell really hits the mark on this one. Wrapping the release is a plucky, R&B track, Brown Liquor with it's driving secondary rhythm. Mitchell sings this track like she knows a little about the stuff and uses it as a great closer for a real solid release.



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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Big Song Music artist: Lisa Biales - The Beat of My Heart - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Beat of My Heart, from Lisa Biales and it's rich. Opening with Mabel Scott track, Disgusted, Biales is swinging right from the start backed by Jim Pugh on piano, Larry Taylor on bass and Tony Braunagel on drums. Darrell Leonard adds solid trumpet work and Joe Subjett really gets the sax working with some hot solo lines. Volt (Stax) record, What A Man, a hot R&B track by Linda Lyndell is up next with just a bit of polish a little more funk in the bottom, cool lead guitar work by Johnny lee Schell and cool backing vocals by Maxayn Lewis and Kudisan Kai. Allen Toussaint's I Don't Wanna Hear It has that primal R&B spirit with Tom Peterson on bari sax lead, Joe Sublett on sax and Darrell Leonard on trumpet. Nina Simone's Be My Husband has a swampy feel boosted by Pugh's Hammond work, cool Kay guitar riffs by Schell and top reinforcements by Braunagel. Meemphis Slim's Messin' Around With the Blues falls square into Biales' pure vocal style and she milks it for each note. Leonard's trumpet highlights and a slick guitar solo by Schell add icing to an already rich cake.  Gospel track, Said I Wasn't Gonna Tell Nobody, really swings with excellent backing vocals by Lewis, Kai, Leslie Smith and Will Wheaton and of course vital Hammond work by Pugh. Written by her mother, Alberta Roberts, Crying Over You has a firm, 40's sound and character. The purity of Biales' vocals backed by the warm sax work of Sublett, smoky piano work by Pugh and a cool trumpet solo by Lee Thornberg gives this track honest authenticity. Henry Glover's, Wild Stage of Life continues in this vein but with a pinch of a New Orleans blues, nicely complimented by Pugh's keyboard work and a really tasty guitar solo by Paul Brown. Carrie Newcomber's I Should Have Known Better is a really cool track with a funky back beat and just a touch of jazz. Nicely blended vocals between Biales and Schell as well as a crisp piano solo by Pugh make this track one of my release favorites. Wrapping the release is Brenda Burn's smooth R&B track, Brotherly Love. This track showcases a totally different quality of Biales' voice, nicely surrounded by Pugh's keyboard work as well as a really tasty guitar solo by Schell and caressingly warm backing vocals by Lewis, Kai,and Smith. This is an excellent closer for a brilliant vocal album.



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Monday, October 5, 2015

Blue Pearl Records artist: Deb Callahan - Sweet Soul - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Sweet Soul, from Deb Callahan and that's exactly what it is. Opening with Big Love with it's solid strut, Callahan establishes her ground vocally joined byMike Finnigan on keys, Reggie McBride on bass, Tony Braunagel on drums and Allen James. Very nice! I Keep Things Running has a solid footing in the blues with bass vamp and and nicely woven keys by Finnigan. Nice backing vocals by Teresa James, Finnigan and Leslie Smith warm the track and a slick guitar solo from James punches it up. Rocker, Shackin Up features Johnny Lee Schell on slide guitar and a cool bass line from McBride drives this track and Deb rides the wave vocally with clarity and authority. Soulful ballad, I Am Family, will have strong cross radio appeal with a taste of country and nice vocal harmonies from Teresa James and Finnigans articulate piano work. Laid back, Sweet Feeling, is a soulful pop track with strong support from Finnigan. Born To Love You screams 60's soul. Possibly my favorite track on the release, Callahan really hits it, supported by Finnigan on keys, Braunagel on drums, McBride on bass and Lydia Hilliard on backing vocals. James lays in a plucky guitar solo with attitude. Excellent! Seven States Away has a super walking bass line from McBride and real nice vocals from Callahan. Finnigan gives this track legs on keys and Braunagel is tight on drums. Tom Waits' Way Down In The Hole is one that has been done by a number of artists, being the theme song for terrific crime drama, The Wire. This track maintains it's Latin flavor and Callahan shows that she can hold down lead vocals where other super stars have been. James' lead guitar solo on this track is really nice and Jimmy Powers adds a nice harp line. Finnigan smooths in a nice keyboards solo and Teresa James, Finnigan and Schell add super backing vocals. Step Back is a southern soul track with intermittent soft and biting rhythms. A cool keyboard interlude by Finnigan sets the track apart and Callahan jumps up kicking. You Don't Know Your Mind is a high stepper and Deb's vocal phrasing is spot on. James springs on his guitar solo and shakes it nicely and Finnigan dabs on keyboard like an artist dabs on paint. Very nice! Ike Turner's Crazy Bout You Baby, calmed down just a little with a 2 step kind of feel and some chickin pickin guitar riffs from James. Callahan keeps a soulful attitude giving it an interesting texture. Slow blues ballad, Slow As Molasses, Sweet as Honey gets really gritty as Callahan digs deep for Pearl like feelings. James plays guitar response to her blues call and also sails with a smooth soulful guitar solo over clever piano work by Finnigan, making this my favorite track on the release. Doctor John's, I Been Hoodood has a strong funk feel but Callahan has such a soulful voice it gives it a fresh feeling. This is a super closer to a strong soulful release.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BEJEB Music artist: Deb Ryder - Let It Rain - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (April 21, 2015), Let It Rain, from Deb Ryder and it swings. Opening with That's Just How It Is, Ryder comes out hot and heavy with powerful backing from Kirk Fletcher, Ric Ryder on bass, Mike Finnigan on B3 and Tony Braunagel on drums. Fletcher really hits the groove and Finnigan lays it flat out. On Latin/shuffle track Can't Go Back Again, Braunagel sets a mean line and Johnny Lee Schell joins Fletcher on guitar with Lee Thornburg on Trumpet and Lon Price on sax. Very nice! On You Won't Be True Thornburg and Price give the track a much heavier swing and Schell and Fletcher lays down some really hot riffs. I really like Ryders vocal work on this release. Excellent! On the smokey, Guilty As Sin, Ryder guides her listeners down a dark slinky alley. Finnigan's B3 punctuation is particularly effective, Kim Wilson tips in some warm harp work on this track and Fletcher steps up with a few real nice R&B style blues guitars solo as well. Very smooth! Cry Another Tear has a spiritual undertone with Finnegan leading the way on both piano and B3. With a hand clapping revival feel, Ryder shows she has it all joined by Johnny Lee Schell and Finnigan on backing vocals. Fletcher steps up with a flight fingered country style solo on guitar which I would have sworn was Albert Lee. Very nice! Ryder's solid bass work drives the train on Hold Your Lamp High with rich horn work from Thornburg and Price. Finnegan creates the tension on B3 but it's the super lead vocals by Ryder that shines brightest on this track. Thornburg takes a cool muted trumpet solo on this track giving it a quiet jazz sound for a bridge but Ryder drags it back into the soul arena with her gritty voice. On boogie stack, Money Monsoon, Fletcher again shows his fast finger work and Finnegan, Thornburg and Price push it over the top. Excellent! On quiet ballad, Kiss and Dream, the entire band softens it back with James Hutchinson on double bass and Finnegan on piano accompanied by Braunagel on brushes. Ryder shows the clarity of her vocals and Price lays out a really nice sax solo. Title track, Let It Rain has a R&B feel and Fletcher steps up and delivers Robert Cray style. Kim Wilson blends his harp work in nicely with finesse and control. This is really an ideal radio track with a catchy melody, simple but tight instrumentals and of course the super vocal work of Ryder. David Fraser joins on accordion for New Orleans flavored Ma Misere and Albert Lee takes the lead guitar role bouncing off of the super piano work of Finnigan. Wrapping the release is a stripped down bluesy track, Round and Around with Ryder on vocal, Wilson on harp, Schell on guitar and backing vocals. Nice wind down from a really pretty hot release!

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