Reviews for St. Louis Times (2014)

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"...If this is any indication what {Jim Byrnes} is still capable of, we'll all want more, sooner and closer to home."

"If you haven’t discovered Jim Byrnes by now, it’s entirely your loss."

Juno Award-winning bluesman Jim Byrnes has long been a mainstay of the Canadian blues scene, but he actually grew up in St. Louis. He explores those personal and musical roots on St. Louis Times, an album he terms his most personal yet. This compelling disc reminds us that St. Louis has had a crucial role in American music, so we should be grateful Byrnes wasn't born in, say, Des Moines.

"Jim Byrnes has collaborated with Steve Dawson for 10 years now on 6 albums and they just keep betting better."

"The city (St. Louis) has admittedly not the fame of Chicago, Memphis or New Orleans, but has not been less important in the history of jazz and blues. And this is translated by Jim Byrnes in a great way."

"With a voice that evokes comparisons to Delbert McClinton and Taj Mahal with a hint of Louis Armstrong thrown in, Byrnes has no trouble negotiating these various musical styles."

"His latest release pays tribute to the music of his hometown, mixing original songs and classic tunes by artists like Albert King, Chuck Berry, W.C. Handy, Lonnie Johnson, and Little Milton that are associated with St. Louis."

"Jim’s vocals still go down as smoothly as your favorite bourbon as you listen to this history lesson in the blues."

"Add in a strong horn section, masterful production from Dawson and guest turns from John Hammond and Colin James and you have an ace album sure to be in the running at the next awards season."

"After hearing this album, there should be no St. Louis doubters, only shouters."

"Byrnes is one of the finest Canuck blues singers, but he's actually from St. Louis originally."

"St. Louis Times is a joy to listen to, Byrnes paying tribute to his hometown’s musical heritage as well as his own with a set that displays a wealth of heart and soul."

"The twelve tracks are a mixture of songs that were recorded by St. Louis musicians like Chuck Berry, Stump Johnson, Little Milton, and Peetie Wheatstraw, along with several new tunes written by Byrnes that pay tribute to the city of his birth and the music he grew up on."

"An affectionate salute to this home town, Jim Byrnes' "St. Louis Times" delights with his heartfelt, and fresh renditions of some vintage blues and some originals."

"Quite the soulful travelogue..."

"For the sixth time now, the Byrnes-Dawson collaboration is substantially far greater than the already impressive sum of their considerable parts."

"...Jim Byrnes, a musical veteran who, for half a century (his first professional gig was in 1964), has been keeping the blues alive."

"Jim Byrnes is one of those music warriors who has spent nearly half a century in the studio and on the road playing his brand of American roots music. He has now returned with the most unique and personal album."

"This album charms listeners, who will find it very inviting. It’s easy on the ears, and tastefully performed. Take it for a spin soon."

"By the close, when Dawson veritably weeps on guitar and Byrnes laments during Lonnie Johnson's "Another Night to Cry," it's quite apparent that this is a must-have album."

"St. Louis Times is solid and smart."

"Byrnes often has lauded the influence of his native city in previous interviews, but the new record isn’t a dreary travelogue or nostalgia. It’s more expansive and creative than that, and he also rates it his most personal."

"Byrnes’ tasty vocals and Dawson’s pedal steel deliver maximum satisfaction. Mighty enjoyable goods!"

"St. Louis Times is a joy to listen to, Byrnes paying tribute to his hometown’s musical heritage as well as his own with a set that displays a wealth of heart and soul."

"St. Louis Times is not only Jim Byrnes’ most personal recording, it’s also his best. He really seems to be firing on all cylinders with this one, maybe because it hits so close to home, literally."

"On St. Louis Times Jim Byrnes finds a voice, in both the literal and the metaphorical senses, that is perfectly pitched between yesterday and today, which is to say between the traditional and the contemporary."

"St. Louis Times shows a man can go home again, at least musically."

"Like Scotch whisky or French cheese, Jim Byrnes just gets better with age, and St. Louis Times is the most satisfying thing he’s ever committed to wax. In fact, it’s one of the finest blues records ever made in Western Canada; I certainly can’t think of a stronger one."

"Byrnes is an artist with depth and intensity. He has that “been there, done that, have to sing a song about it” quality that makes the blues a genre that never gets old."

"St. Louis Times is as top shelf and solid as anything the guy has so far done, and it was produced, recorded, and mixed to a honed luster by…oh hell, that Canuck wunderkind Steve Dawson, who also plays his usual killer guitar licks and co-writes with Big Jim."

"The arrangements are modern, complementary and very listenable, Jim’s vocals are rich and warm, and overall, the result is well worth a listen."

"The originals are solid tunes with The Journey Home being exceptional with recollections of the Mississippi, listening to the Dodgers and the Cardinals over the radio, and the Illinois Central trains with Dawson’s telling guitar responses to the latter."

"Byrnes exquisite performance takes you back to days gone by in this excellent laid back collection."

"Seldom do I hear anything that leaves me speechless, but I could sum this one up in a single word…WOW!  This is Byrnes and Steve Dawson’s sixth album together and I guess I don’t have to tell you that I am really impressed."

"Jim Byrnes offers his version of his birth city’s anthem and presents “St. Louis Blues”, on the eve of the song’s one hundredth anniversary."

"It’s carefully chosen, impeccably rendered, sumptuous material – perhaps the best Jim Byrnes record yet."

"Byrnes gets back to the business of the blues with his new album."

"The connection between Jim Byrnes and the music contained on his new CD is palpable. 'These songs represent a snapshot of what I heard growing up in St. Louis,' Byrnes says. 'There’s an unbelievable history there, and I was exposed to it both in live performances and on the radio. The music surrounded me when I was a kid and this album is my way of repaying the city for what it gave me.' "

"Byrnes is blessed with a deep and resonant blues voice permeated with a clarity that makes the lyrics as important as the melody – a true storyteller in the old tradition."

"...Opening with an Albert King track with that Latin twist, 'Somebody Lied' is a cool number with cool vocals and guitar work from Byrnes and John Hammond on harp."

"He has just released his tenth album, "St. Louis Times," a superb collection of blues tunes, including many original and neat covers of Albert King's "I Get Evil" and Chuck Berry's classic "Nadine." "

"Hot stuff throughout, done right, done the way it should be that shows blues continues to be in good hands, going forward and going backward.  Check it out."