Mark Cameron – On A Roll
Cop Records – 2019
14 tracks; 60 minutes
An all original set from this Minnesota band, some tracks with strong blues content, others branching into more of a melodic, rocky sound. Mark wrote the songs and leads on guitar and vocals, singing in a pleasant and clear voice, making the lyrics immediately intelligible; Sheri Cameron plays sax, flute and percussion, Rick Miller is on harp and B/Vs, Scott Lundberg on bass and B/Vs and Dan Schroeder on drums.
The album opens with the lively ensemble piece “Trouble Brewin’” in which Mark sings of a relationship that looks doomed to founder on the rock of alcohol. “On Your Way To The Top” is an early standout with Mark’s core guitar riff picked up by sax and harp while “Dirty Biscuit” recounts another tale of a wild woman, played to a driving boogie rhythm. Talking of boogie, Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again” is the rhythmic inspiration for “Ridin’ The Rails” as Sheri switches to flute, adding an ethereal touch to the tune, an interesting combo. The title track finds Mark in a succession of difficulties, losing his job and his girl, Mark finding a suitably ominous sounding riff; hearing ‘troll’ in the lyrics was a first for this reviewer (“I’m living under a bridge, just like a troll, I’m on a roll”).
“Dicey” is a rather odd mid-point in which Mark narrates tales of low life over a bright Rn’B riff before the impressive “Next Stop Is The Blues” on which Mark plays a fine solo, the chorus beefed up by the sax. Mark plays resonator on “Where I Got You From” but mostly sticks to electric as on “Movin’ Out”, one of the uptempo tunes with Mark’s quick-fingered fretwork well supported by Rick’s harp work. “Back Seat Boogie” has a fun 50’s rockabilly feel with the twangy guitar and “Here We Go” is another ensemble piece with a driving rhythm. “What Lucy Says” has some very clear lead work from Mark over a relaxed rhythm before “Mojo Shuffle” lives up to its title as both sax and harp beef up the tune as Mark examines just what the term ‘mojo’ means. Saving the best till last ‘Dreams’ is a slow burn ballad, well sung by Mark. The tune bears some initial resemblance to Otis Redding’s “Dreams To Remember” but develops its own personality over its 5.37 time with impressive sax and guitar work.
Over the last few years Mark Cameron has given us a series of solid albums, proving that he is, indeed, on a roll.