13 tracks; 60 minutes.
Jimmy Carpenter’s storming sax has been heard with Jimmy Thackery, Eric Lindell, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington and, most recently, Mike Zito & The Wheel. However, until now we have not really heard Jimmy as a writer and singer. Those omissions are certainly corrected with this outstanding CD, recorded in Jimmy’s base of New Orleans with a solid core band and some interesting guests.
Jimmy wrote all the material, handles the lead vocals and, of course plays sax, joined by John Fohl on guitar, John Gros on keys, Cassandra Faulconer on bass and Wayne Maureau on drums. Michael Skinkus adds percussion, Reba Russell sings co-lead on one track and backing vocals on three more, Anson Funderburgh and Mike Zito play guitar on one track each and Antonio Gambrell adds his trumpet to Jimmy’s sax on three cuts. The overall style is quite varied but what is consistent is the quality of the songs and the playing. In the liner notes Jimmy gives much of the credit to a new lady in his life, as well as some previous female influences.
Opening track “Can’t Let Go” only has the sax and trumpet in a support role, solo honours going to John G’s organ and Anson Funderburgh’s guitar, but it’s a great start to the album, a really catchy little tune with Jimmy’s voice immediately making a strong impression. The title track adds some non-PC humour to the album with Jimmy’s admiration for his girl’s shapely rear view: “Sometimes I wish you’d leave so that I could watch you walk away”. The chugging R n’ B rhythm propels the song and Jimmy plays some great sax throughout. “When You’re Ready” has a funky Texas roadhouse feel with the piano and some buzzing guitar from Mike Zito who takes an intense solo, Jimmy leaving his sax behind but delivering a good vocal.
“She’s Not You” demonstrates Jimmy’s song writing ability with a superb piece of soul balladry. Opening with Jimmy’s expressive sax the song progresses into a wonderful chorus: “I don’t know how to say it, but it’s not her it’s you. In the end there’s nothing she can do ‘cos you’re a hard act to follow, after what we had what am I supposed to do. You’re a hard act to follow, there is nothing wrong but she’s not you.” The sax solo that follows the chorus blows through the speakers like a storm – fantastic stuff!
Across the rest of the album there are more songs in a variety of styles, all infused with Jimmy’s new found love: “Crazy ‘Bout You” sounds like a lost Springsteen song with Jimmy’s blazing sax and a rousing chorus and “More Than Meets The Eye” has a great hook on its soulful chorus; “Hard To Be Cool” has a big band feel with Jimmy on baritone and trumpeter Antonio creating a fine wall of horn sounds; “No One’s Ever” is a ballad with some gentle wah-wah and sax; “Favourite Muse” has a slightly latin, jazzy feel while “On The Outside” recounts Jimmy’s frustrations at not being able to get on to the inside of his target in a piece of pop/rock.
The final track “Fellow Traveller” is another departure, a country duet with Reba Russell, the two voices combining on a rather sad ballad, the atmosphere accentuated by Jimmy’s lonesome sax solo.
Two fine instrumentals complete the album, both featuring Jimmy’s sax. “C King Blues” has a soul feel (think King Curtis) and is the longest cut here; more of a NO feel pervades “7th Street Shuffle”, a lyrical mid-paced number that gets the toes tapping with solos on organ and guitar as well as Jimmy’s statement of the main theme.
Overall this is a fine album that deserves attention and is highly recommended by this reviewer.