Exclaim

The gap between blues and country isn't a wide one and it's bridged here by BC veteran Jim Byrnes in effortless and convincing style. Primarily known as a multiple Juno-winning blues singer, Byrnes delivers a fine album of covers of country classics, done straight, no chaser. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson is the ideal man to supervise this transition, given that he's equally at home in both genres and has collaborated extensively with Byrnes. The song selection is impeccable, featuring Canadian content (Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On," Lightfoot's "Ribbon of Darkness"), tunes by country giants Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Harlan Howard, Buck Owens, and Dolly Parton, and contemporary greats Nick Lowe (a superb take on "Sensitive Man") and Tom Waits. Colleen Rennison duets with Byrnes on a vigorous version of "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries," the album's most up-tempo tune. As ever, Dawson shines across a wide range of guitars, abetted by some of his regular session players, while One More Girl and the Sojourners help flesh out the sound with backing vocals on three tracks. Holding centre court with ease, however, is the relaxed vocal style of Byrnes. It's fitting that the album closes with Hank's "Honky Tonk Blues," as it helps show this bluesman is right at home in a honky tonk. Let's hope for sequels too.
 

Year: 
2012