Good Paper Of Rev Rob Mortimer – Lock It Down Tight
Self-Release – 2018
11 tracks; 46 minutes
Robert Bowles Mortimer Jr is a certified reverend and a second generation undertaker in Greenville, Mississippi, but more importantly for Blues Blast readers, he is a musician whose latest album blends soul, funk and blues into an attractive blend. I gather that the previous releases from his band have been more Americana in flavor but certainly this one should offer plenty of interest to blues and soul fans. Rob handles lead vocals and plays some keyboards and guitar, Jeffrey Tonos is on guitar, David Morgan on bass and Walter Washington on drums. Horns are added by Memphis mainstays Art Edmaiston (saxes), Marc Franklin (trumpet) and Bob Dowell (trombone) and Rick Steff and Toby Vest also add some keyboard parts. Rob wrote the songs apart from one Tom Waits cover, the band also being credited for the arrangements.
“Who’s Gonna Take This Bad Ass Down” may not sound much like the words of a reverend but it makes a great opener with a full band production, horns prominent. “I Don’t Need You” has more of a pop feel, especially with the ‘woohoo’ chorus, the horns and chiming guitars making an attractive tune before “This Ain’t No Throne”, a slow burn Rn’B ballad that provides a good vehicle for Rob’s anguished vocals. “Delta Side Of Vicksburg” sounds autobiographical as the horns again produce a massive sound and Rob sings of “the days when cotton was king”, Jeffrey playing a nice guitar solo here. The pace drops for the Americana-flavoured “High Ground” which has plenty of ringing guitars and the horns accentuating the chorus as Rob tells us that he expects to end his days “up on the high ground”, not just “surrounded by dirt”, a lovely song that makes clear Rob’s faith in an afterlife.
Tom Waits’ “Such A Scream” brings funk to the album and offers some rationale for the quote on the website: ‘The Beatles with James Brown as a front man”. Tom is also name-checked (with a reference to “Ol’ 55”) in the pulsating “You’re My Radio” which is a standout track with a magnificent horn arrangement and rhythm guitar work that comes straight from Memphis. More soulful material follows with “She Can’t Stand Me”, Jeffrey’s shimmering guitar underneath the blaring horns on a song in which Rob is being thrown out of the house -sad for him, but a real toe-tapper! Rob then states in “I Hope” that she does not fall for him because she will try to change him – sounds like he has relationship issues! The title track is another winner, almost anthemic with the horns hitting even greater heights and its chorus concluding “…I wanna say Amen”. However, Rob has not completed his sermon yet as he concludes that “this love is wrong, you’ll be a whole lot better “When I’m Gone”, a really funky tune with another fine horn arrangement to close out the album.
At times the horns made me think of Memphis, at times of Chicago (the band, not the city). This is a good album with lots of soulful material, great horns and lots of music to dance to, making it one well worth checking out if those are elements you enjoy.