Rick Randlett – Nothing To Do | Album Review

rickrandlettcd Rick Randlett – Nothing To Do

 www.rickrandlett.com

 Fox Run Studio Label

 13 songs – 50 minutes

 Rick Randlett’s path to the blues is one that has been followed by many fans and musicians over the years. He first fell in love with the music through the British blues invasion of the late 1960s. Bands such as Cream, The Yardbirds and Fleetwood Mac introduced him to the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, who in turn led him to Robert Johnson and Johnson’s own influences.

This path is nicely acknowledged in the opening track, “Heart Made Of Stone”, which has a hypnotic, descending opening riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Yardbirds album (and the title of the song itself even recalls their 1965 hit “Heart Full Of Soul”). The twist however is that Nothing To Do is primarily an acoustic album, and the riff segues perfectly into the relaxed shuffle groove of the song.

Randlett has been part of the Florida blues scene for more than 15 years where he is primarily known for fronting his three piece electric band. Nothing To Do is his second acoustic CD, following the success of 2012’s Change Coming On.

It was after he had moved to Florida in the 1980s that Randlett started to perform with country music artists as well as blues artists. As a result, his live shows often feature songs by the likes of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, as well as Big Bill Broonzy and Rev. Gary Davis. And Randlett’s song-writing draws from both wells. He wrote all the songs on the CD except “Full Moon”, which he co-wrote with Dotti Leichner. He sings in an enjoyably rough-hewn voice that at times sounds at times like the bastard son of Tom Waits and Peter Mulvey singing songs written by JJ Cale. The songs themselves are intelligently structured and well-written, mining common lyrical themes of love, loss and leaving, but without ever descending into cliché. On the title track, he sings: “Staring out my window from the comfort of my chair; wondering what the world’s up to, but I don’t really care. Push back my recliner, turn on the radio, knowing that I got all day with nowhere to go. It’s so nice to have a day with nothing to do.”

Randlett is an impressive guitarist (his solo on “Not Playing That Game” is particularly good) who handles all the guitar, dobro and lap steel duties on the album.  Support is ably provided by Mitch Rogers on bass guitar (especially on the minimalist “Wish It Would Rain”) and Donny Weatherford on drums, washboard and guitar case (!). Pete “King” Karnes guests on harmonica on four songs, including the title track.

Weatherford also produced the album at the Fox Run Studio in Newberry, FL, and he achieves an impressively warm, balanced mix.

This is a very enjoyable release, which takes a decidedly non-traditional approach to a range of acoustic blues styles, from the Louisiana-flavoured “Party On The Bayou”, the bleak steel guitar of “Full Moon” and the folky finger-picked “Going To Mexico”.  The overall ambience is relaxed, whilst still maintaining a high standard of musicianship. Well worth checking out.

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