Connor Ray Music CRM 17-001
13 songs — 62 minutes
Brooklyn-born, Houston-based harmonica player Steve Krase delivers a highly entertaining collection of originals and carefully recrafted covers as he delivers a welcome follow-up to his 2014 release, Buckle Up.
A frequent competitor in the International Blues Challenge, where he’s earned multiple spots in the finals, Krase began playing at age 16 after listening to Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold.” He bought himself a copy of an instruction book by Tony Glover — an instrumental part of the folk revival in the ’60s with Koener, Ray And Glover, and began a musical adventure that’s spanned four decades with stops in Ohio, California and Louisiana.
A first-call harp player in Houston for better than 30 years, he’s developed his own style in a world of Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter copycats. He spent a decade backing up Space City blues legend Jerry Lightfoot and another three with Matt Leddy & The Meatcutters before venturing on his own, blending everything from punk, country, electronica and soul into a warm, relaxed style firmly rooted in the blues.
Most recently, the Houston Post has included his unit eight times for its music awards, including five nominations for blues band, two for best instrumentalist and one for best player of the year. He’s backed here by David Carter on guitar, Rock Romano on bass, Richard Cholakian on drums with Randy Wall on keyboards and Alisha Pattillo on saxophone. Connor Ray Music label mates Mark May and Bob Lanza (guitar) and vocal powerhouse Trudy Lynn (backing vocals) make guest appearances.
The action here kicks off with “Brand New Thang,” a straight-ahead blues composed by Romano and featuring May, about a new lover who wakes the singer in the middle of the night. A pair of covers — Willie Dixon’s “Crazy For My Baby” and Fats Domino’s classic, “Let The Four Winds Blow” — get arrangements that separate them dramatically from the originals. The former merges versions laid down by Charlie Musselwhite and Little Walter as well as Dixon himself.
Next up, Krase launches into the humorous “The World’s Still In A Tangle.” Based strongly on the Jimmy Rogers song about the Cold War, this version deals with the fight against the zombie apocalypse instead of Communism, and the message it delivers is crystal clear in the current political climate: Stop listening to the news.
“Shot Of Rhythm And Blues” follows. Made famous by country-soul artist Arthur Alexander, one of the founders of the Muscle Shoals sound, it’s a rapid-fire rocker that features Lanza, while the seven-plus minute title tune, “Should’ve Seen It Coming,” starts off with a steady, funky beat that gives Steve, Wall and Pattillo and plenty of space to stretch out. Lovers of the late harp player Gary Primich will recognize the next tune. Written by soul man Wee Willie Wayne’s, “Travelin’ Mood” served as the title cut of one of Primich’s best albums.
Krase dips into Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s New Orleans songbook for “Troubles, Troubles” then Lightfoot’s “Make You Love Me Baby” before the soulful original, “Repo Man” — a rap about working to take your car in the middle of the night, and “Way Back Home,” written by Wilton Felder of The Crusaders. Two bonus tracks reprise “Should’ve Seen It Coming” and “Repo Man.” Fair warning: the lyrics include language unsuitable for younger or more sensitive ears.
Available through most major online retailers, Should’ve Seen It Coming is modern, soulful blues at its best. The covers are fresh throughout, the originals shine, and Krase is an entertainer of the first order. Pick this one up today. You won’t be disappointed.