"I've been at this professionally for more than forty years, and I really feel that I'm only now discovering my true voice,"
Said multiple June and Maple blues award winner Jim Byrnes, commenting on this wide ranging roots release.
Listeners will delight in this discovery too as Byrnes delivers blues, gospel, R&B, and country on this gritty effort.
The transplanted Saint Louis native, now residing in Vancouver, enlists veteran routs musicians from both sides of the border, notably the Vancouver based gospel trio, the Sojourners.
Classic gospel tunes "What are they doing in heaven today" and " I want my crown" intersperse with R&B covers and a unique, slowed down arrangement of the bands "Ophelia". His blues fueled originals like "Ol'rattler" and "Talk in circles" are terrific. Byrnes actually knew the late Johnnie Johnson and Ray Charles growing up, so his cover of brother Ray's "Drown in my own tears' is especially heartfelt. The vocals are so full throughout proving that his Vocal of the Year award at the 2006 Canadian Folk Music Awards was no fluke.
Byrnes lost both of his legs many years ago, yet has remained active in both music and acting, winning awards for both.
His material has depth as he paints characters that retell the stories of John Henry and Stagger Lee in different settings.
He hearkens back to Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers for the title track and delivers some obscure covers like Sam Cooks " Looking For Love" This top drawer stuff is as good as any record this year.