Growing up in a true blues city, St. Louis, Missouri, Jim Byrnes discovered that even as a teenager he knew he had a calling for the blues. With his rough-stock smoky vocals and pure blues approach it is simple to see that his dreams have come true. The major problem is being recognized as a blues performer. Having acted in many movies in the past, the TV series Wiseguy and his success in the syndicated show "The Highlander" that brought many fans to his character of Joe Dawson.
I couldn't help but think when I was hearing this CD for the first time that his past acting may make it tough to be accepted as a serious musician in some circles, unwarranted as that is after hearing Jim Byrnes latest CD Fresh Horses. The album sets a standard that any aspiring blues musicians or artists would do well to follow. Jim Byrnes gives nods to some of the greats here as you can hear traces of influences such as Muddy waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Cray.
From the start Fresh Horses delivers classic blues with a modern feel that in no way could ever disappoint blues music purists. A true credit to the genre, there are but a couple places that the CD drops to being merely acceptable, for the most part however Jim Byrnes has no problem holding your attention. Raw emotion and feeling go into each of the 12 tracks included here.
Some of the highlights Jim Byrnes throws at you are the amazing reworking of Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues". Although another notable song is Neil Young's "For The Turnstiles", Jim Byrnes also shows he is more than capable of writing a great song himself. This is evident in the songs "B's Blues", and "Love Is Just A Gamble" among others. Now calling Vancouver, British Columbia home, Jim Byrnes may just have another Juno winner on his hands here, as he did with "That River" in 1995.