Every so often I think that I have had enough of artists covering songs from ‘those who came before’ there have been countless ‘Issues’ and many of them are mediocre to say the least. Sorry, you ain’t never picked cotton, most likely never ate okra, or collards for that matter, so leave it be unless you can REALLY add something to the song, something of yourself that makes me realize that you get it.
With that diatribe outta the way, let me say Mr. Jim Byrnes GETS IT. Stepping up to the stage and giving us his take on so many well-know chestnuts that they seemed new and alive in their own right.
You need to listen to his banjo driven version of Bobby “Blue’ Bland’s ‘Yield Not To Temptation’. This version has breathed new life into this classic and at the end when the soul chorus comes in we know the path of righteousness is there on this disc. With the current revival of Mississippi Sheiks music and jug band music overall, it is a foot stomping version of ‘Bootlegger’s Blues’ here that Mr. Byrnes chooses to cover, just the right amount of country harmonies and plain old nasty banjo and fiddle had our noggins bopping like bobble head dolls in the back of a Chevy Pickup while driving down a country road with corn likker in the trunk.
Anyone who can do justice to a Louis Jordan song earns big points with me. ‘You Can’t Get That Stuff No More’ features some tasty work on a national tricone by Steve Dawson, and Daniel Lapp on trumpet and tenor banjo, and consistently good vocals by Byrnes just adds icing to the cake.
Who is Jim Byrnes? Raised in St. Louis, and over the years has become the quintessential Canadian musician. A multiple Juno award winner, this is his fourth collaboration with producer/musician Steve Dawson. What they prove on this release is that though these songs indeed come from those before they are not to be treated as museum pieces, but as ever evolving and current reflections on the blue side of life.