Wichita Blues Society
Jim Byrnes is a blues and roots singer, songwriter and actor who has spent most of his adult life in Canada. He has the Juno Awards (Canadian Grammy), Maple Blues Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards to prove his popularity up there, including 2007 Blues Album of the Year for his last one. His other few recordings are spread over a quarter century due to his acting career and some accidents, one where he lost his legs.
His brand new one, My Walking Stick, on the Black Hen Music label, is a well-crafted album, if not as traditional or electric as some of his previous ones. There are only 4 or 5 musicians on each track but, besides standup bass and drums, you'll hear 21 different varieties of stringed and keyboard instruments at one time or another in just the right amounts, never over-powering Byrnes' vocals. The Sojourners gospel trio add backup to most tracks.
For me, there's a Keb Mo feel to this disc, except you hear more years and grit in the voice. Byrnes and his first rate backup do very personal covers of tunes from or that may remind you of JJ Cale, Ray Charles, Mel Tillis, The Band, Leon Redbone, or The Persuasions plus a few originals that fit right in. He makes them all sound like his own.
On Ray Charles' “Drown in My Own Tears,” you hear every mile of the hard road he's traveled. Byrnes is an old pro at storytelling
songs and the music is well thought-out and tasty so its a pretty interesting listen, If this sounds like you might like it, I think you will.