Jim Byrnes is a leading Canadian bluesman, a guy who has been around the block a few times and knows and understands the music perfectly. Now nearing the age of seventy, Byrnes is again joined here by producer and guitarist Steve Dawson, the seventh time the pair have worked together. Dawson’s fretwork is always tasteful, refined and grounded in blues with traditional flourishes and flair.
Twelve tracks include excellent covers of Willie Dixon’s Weak Brain, Narrow Mind, and a full-band sound for the ever-popular, Ninety-Nine And A Half. Byrnes even includes a wonderfully brave take on the Leonard Cohen classic, Everybody Knows, here given a distinctly bluesy undercurrent, together with another near-standard in Anywhere The Wind Blows. There are soul-based covers, straight blues and modern twists on tradition all confidently and expertly delivered from a guy who, on the evidence here, is currently working pretty much at the top of the league.
This is a truly excellent release, full of gritty vocals, inspired interpretation and soulful, sensitive support musicianship. Byrnes knows exactly when to step up to the plate, full throttle blaring and blasting and just when to ease off, slow it down and control the delivery with a heightened feeling and understanding.