At sixty-nine years old with a number of Juno and Maple Blues awards behind him it would be tempting to expect an artist like Jim Byrnes to be resting on his laurels and to be generally feeling very pleased with himself. Instead, Byrnes and long-time collaborator, Steve Dawson, have returned with a varied and interesting set of blues-based Jazz and Americana songs backed with lush production standards and talented musicians, all held together by Byrnes' rich, weathered, blues-perfect voice. A few original tunes are surrounded by blues and jazz standards which are often arranged slightly different to how you may have heard them in the past. 'Ain't No Love In The Heart of the City', for example, sounds completely re-worked to where I heard it last, masquerading as a rock ballad in the mid-80's under the tutelage of David Coverdale and Whitesnake! Here is is a blues song with a different rhythm and timing all of its own, whilst 'Weak Brain, Narrow Mind' becomes a sparse, haunting song, reminiscent of fellow Canadian blues guitarist, Jeff Healey. The Robbie Robertson penned, 'The Shape I'm In' is a bluesy, booze-addled number that can't fail to put a smile on your face and a tap in your toe whilst album opener 'Step By Step' evokes a New Orleans night with its funky arrangement and sassy horn section. 'There is Something on Your Mind' and the Leonard Cohen song, 'Everybody Knows' are also given the Byrnes treatment-sung convincingly in his rich, velvety style that reeks of a life well lived and an authenticity and belief in the music. The original songs hold up well alongside the standards and covers. 'Deep Blue Sea' is a bluesy, Van Morrison-esque song that sees the horn section excelling yet again. 'Long Hot Summer Days', meanwhile, is a sultry, smoky, almost Nina Simone styled slow-burner of a song with superb arrangements and an excellent production. Indeed, Byrnes points out, "Most blues fans are on the lookout for the sound of a tasty blues guitar, but for me what makes or breaks a song is the singer. All of the singers I've loved have known when to hold back and I've finally learned to work with restraint." This is clearly in evidence on Long Hot Summer Days. It is a superbly delivered and well executed album from a musician at the height of his powers. If it's the blues that you love, the blues tinged with a smoky New Orleans night and a little Americana thrown in for good measure, then Long Hot Summer Days may well be the album to get you through the long, dark nights of the winter to come.