Lloyd Jones – Tennessee Run
14 songs – 45 minutes
VizzTone Label Group VT-LL-010
One of the most soulful guitarists ever to come out of the Pacific Northwest, Lloyd Jones gathers together several top musicians from Nashville for this tour de force album, an all-original set that delivers a heaping helping of the swamp-infused blues and roots he’s been delivering since the ‘70s.
A native of Portland, Ore., Jones grew up in a musical family and turned to the guitar in his teens after playing drums professionally with his brother. Deeply influenced by Chicago blues and R&B, Lloyd’s early years were filled with the sounds of Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, James Brown and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and encouragement from both harp giant Big Walter Horton and S.P. Leary, the legendary timekeeper for both Muddy and Howlin’ Wolf.
Jones fronted the pop band Brown Sugar, a regional favorite, through the late ‘70s after replacing his brother in the lineup, and eventually formed a partnership with Curtis Salgado in a duo that endured until the vocalist split for the East Coast to join Roomful of Blues in the mid-‘80s. Lloyd subsequently split his time between his own bands and work with Big Mama Thornton, Albert Collins, Charlie Musselwhite, Tommy Castro and others. A gifted tunesmith, his songs have been recorded by Salgado, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Joe Louis Walker and Coco Montoya.
Lloyd received inspiration for this disc while sailing on Delbert McClinton’s Sandy Beaches Cruise. Delbert, Teresa James and Portland powerhouse LaRhonda Steele all appear as special guests, delivering vocals on one cut each. Recorded and mixed by Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Kevin McKendree at his Rock House studio in Franklin, Tenn., the lineup includes McKendree on keys with Steve Mackey on bass, Jim Hoke on tenor sax, Quentin Ware on trumpet, Roy Agee on trombone, Kenneth Blevins and Reinhardt Melz on percussion and Etta Britt and Jackie Wilson on backing vocals.
Jones fires out of the gate with a fat, chunky guitar run to open “You Got Me Good,” a horn-propelled blue-eyed soul pleaser that blazes ahead throughout atop a driving rhythm. The feel continues in the medium-fast shuffle, “Me & You,” which celebrates the sparks that fly when the lovebirds are together, before Teresa joins the action, sharing the mic for “I Wish I Could Remember Loving You,” a roadhouse rocker delivered with parallel vocal lines and tasty work on the fretboard and 88s.
The love theme takes a momentary backseat for “Where’s My Phone?” It’s a funky, James Brown-inspired number that opens with a hit of rap as it recounts the unsuccessful search in a percussive stop-time R&B before the unhurried ballad, “A True Love Never Dies,” provides an opportunity to cuddle closely on the dance floor and Bayou Boys” — one of two tunes co-written with McKendree and Grammy winner Gary Nicholson – delivers a tip of the hat to south Louisiana in a style that would make the Meters smile.
Delbert joins the fray for the bluesy rocker “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” as Lloyd and Kevin lay down steady riffs to keep things moving steadily forward. The horn-powered “Turn Me Loose” swings from the jump before “That’s All I Want,” another Gulf Coast treat, features LaRhonda as it describes the ecstasy involved in hearing the lady’s voice and sharing a kiss or two, a message that’s repeated in “Love Is Everything.”
Jones’ thoughts turn to food with “Chicken Bones.” All he wants is the meat, but his lady’s split, leaving him with nothing but the frame – and plenty of space for his musicians to display their talent. The Southern rocker, “Every Time We Meet,” puts a smile on his face once more before “Dilly Dally,” a wha-wha-pedaled tune with a Dr. John feel, and rocker “Chevrolet Angel” power the set to close.
Don’t be fooled by the title. Tennessee Run was recorded in the Volunteer State, but definitely conveys the feel of the Big Easy and Louisiana swamp throughout. The warmth of the people, heat of the music and sweet licks shine in every cut. Strongly recommended.