Jim Allchin – Decisions | Album Review

Jim Allchin – Decisions

Sandy Key Music

www.jimallchin.com

14 tracks

Jim Allchin is a self-described American blues rock guitarist, philanthropist, and a former Microsoft executive. Born a good southern boy, his computer science career took him through Stanford and Georgia Tech and eventually to Microsoft.  He played while he worked and for the past 10 years ge has solely dedicated his career to his music.  This is his third solo album, produced by Tom Hambridge who assisted Allchin in writing two of the 14 songs.

Allchin sings and plays lead guitar.  Bill Bergman is on saxes and arranged the horns, and Pat Buchaban and Rob McNelley join in on guitar as did Kenny Greenburg on “After Hours” and “Destiny.”Hambridge is on drums and backing vocals, Michael Rhodes is on bass and Steve Mackey is on bass for the same songs as Greenburg. Lee Thornburg plays trumpet and trombones, Reese Wynans is on Hammond B3 and piano, Jim Wallace jpins the fray for the same two songs on keys.   Wendy Moten backs Keb Mo’s vocals on “Healing Ground” and Mycle Wastman does the same and joins in on two others.

The album kicks off to a huge rocker entitled “Artificial Life.”  It’s got a groove like 70’s or 80’s rock song with big guitar and vocals and the B3 blaring in support.  Allchin offers a stinging set of solos. “The Mexican End” follows, starting off with a nice guitar line and B3 in support.  Allcin comes in on vocals and the horns are in full backing mode.  It’s a jumpy cut that swings well and then Allchin gives us another of his trademark solos. The title track is next, another rocker with Jim giving us a cool intro and then has more organ support for his high energy vocals. And gues what?  There’s another stinging and pretty guitar solo!

Keb Mo’ sings the lead on “Healing Ground;” the tempo comes down to blues rock ballad pace and Mo’ come in after the intro with his suave and smooth style.  Allchin does the second verse and then Mo’ does a quick chorus and Allchin solos.  Mo returns and then after the verse all the backing vocalists join in a big finish with horns and B3 in ample support.  “Blew Me Away” is a sweet little shuffle with lots of over the top guitar work and the full band backing Jim.  “She Is It” is a soft rock ballad that opens with vocals and bare piano.  The B3 appears an the band fills in as Allchin give s a passionate performance.  “Just Plain Sick” is a swinging boogie woogie with piano and a telecaster-sounding guitar lead.  It is a beautifully executed instrumental with a rockabilly feel.

Heavy, slow blues with greasy organ and horns follows; “Friends” has a cool, long intro and then Allchin testifies how money will opens doors and brings fair-weather friends. A huge dose of gritty guitar is served up and then Jim returns for more testifying before going out in a blaze of guitar and organ. “You Might Be Wrong” begins acoustic and has the band fill in as Allchin asks we all get along despite our differences.  He offers up a fine acoustic solo, too.  It turns into a bigger production with horns a blaze and organ helping out.  “After Hours” is an ethereal sort of rock cut where they go instrumental.  The guitars echo and give an airy sort of sound and the B3 fills in similarly; reminded me a bit of some of Carlos Santana’s work. “Don’t Care” follows, a stinging and poignant blues rocker with big guitar and organ solos.

“Stop Hurting Me” is a soft and flowing cut that changes things up again.  The guitar is up front but nice piano and organ work along with horn arrangements make it flow. “My Father’s Eyes” is a rock ballad of sorts with nice restraint demonstrated.  The song does build at the end for a more passionate finish.  “Destiny” is the other big guest track and it closes the album. It’s an instrumental done in maybe a Moody Blues minus the orchestra sort of theme.  The guitar heavy with echo effects drives the piece but thoughtful organ and other backing make it a pretty cut.

More rock than blues, Decisions is a well done album with nice guitar, good vocals and great backing support. I’ve heard Allchin’s prior two albums and this seems to be the biggest and best.  He offers a variety of styles and approaches along with well-crafted songs.  I enjoyed the album and those who like their blues with a big rock flare and contemporary sound will love this one, too!

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