Self-Release – 2017
10 tracks; 41 minutes
Jamell Richardson is known as ‘The Gulf Coast Blues Boy’ and even gets a mention on a recent Mississippi Blues Trail marker that celebrates blues and jazz musicians from his home town of Meridian, Mississippi. Jamell released a debut EP in 2014 so this is effectively his first full album and he has clearly tried to show the range of styles that he plays. Jamell wrote all the songs, plays guitar and bass and handles vocals with Kevin McMorris on drums, keys, horns and everything else. The only other contributors are Simone French and Jessica Riley who sing back-up on three tracks and Christian Allen who adds strings to one cut.
Opening with the title track Jamell immediately lays down some sweet guitar behind a rap-influenced semi-spoken vocal. “When I Squeeze Her” is about playing guitar, Jamell explaining his ‘addiction’ to his instrument over a funky track with horn highlights and some impressive falsetto vocals, Jamell pulling out a strong solo very much in BB King style. Swooping strings and Simone’s harmony vocals add an AOR gloss to the romantic ballad “O’Why” and “Jus Be Yoself” is a funky number with some odd synthesised accordion sounds (though the overall feel is more 70’s disco than Louisiana). Jamell returns to the ballads with the gentle “I Found You” with Kevin’s upright bass well up in the mix as Jamell again finds his higher range vocals. “Sarah Pearl” is a loving and funky tribute to Jamell’s mother that takes us back to the delivery room as Jamell is born.
“Overdrive” opens with moody wah-wah that suits the lyrics about Jamell being ready to play for us though, for this reviewer, it’s a rather plodding track. Things look up on the last three tracks with “Hero”, another strong ballad with hand percussion and both electric and acoustic guitars vying for our attention as Jamell plays the ‘knight in shining armour’ role. The album concludes with two contrasting uptempo tunes: “Party When The Sun Goes Down” lives up to its title with a rousing tune enhanced by backing vocals and baritone sax, Jamell giving us a fine solo mid-tune – the best of the uptempo tracks; “It’s Alright To Smile” brings an island vibe with reggae influences and steel drums.
Overall this is a decent debut album which demonstrates Jamell’s abilities across several styles. The fact that all the music is produced by just the two musicians does make the sound a little ‘thin’ at times and it would be good to hear Jamell in action with a full band.