Modern purveyor of the blues does it right
Dragging the Chicago blues up to the Northern climes of Canada, Jim Byrnes slips into the blues like one would a warm bath. Although based in Canada he was raised in St. Louis, Missouri and in his liner notes recalls seeing Jimmy Reed there in 1963. He also took in Howling Wolf, Bobby Bland, B. B. King and a host of other revered artists. The local radio delved deeper into the past furnishing the young Byrnes with a lifetime love for blues.
So what we’re offered here is 12 slices of lived-in blues music, three originals and nine covers including Bobby Bland’s Yield Not to Temptation, Lowell Fulson’s Black Night, Jimmy Reed’s Take Out Some Insurance and Robert Johnson’s Four Until Late. These may be familiar songs to most who listen to blues music but Byrnes adds colour and variety and avoids falling into the trap of simply making an album of retreads. While the gutsy opener Hot As A Pistol plays it pretty straight as a horn driven 12 bar blues with stinging guitar the remainder of the album employs a more varied approach. The banjo that flows through Yield Not To Temptation is unexpected. And elsewhere Byrnes employs mandolin, fiddle on the country blues sounds of Bootlegger’s Blues and Black Night. On No Mail Blues a rockabilly element is introduced courtesy of some sweet guitar licks by producer Steve Dawson. In fact the only song here that appears to copy the original blueprint is Reed’s Take Out Some Insurance which captures the original’s laid back ennui which Reed patented. Overall a fine album that pays tribute to tradition while looking forward.