The Bob Lanza Blues Band – Time to Let Go
11 tracks/ 43:21 minutes
There’s no better music than the blues when you’re wallowing in sadness and can’t see your way out, and there’s no better music than the blues to lead you to healing and to restore some hope for the next day. During the recording of this album, New Jersey blues guitarist Lanza’s mother and brother died, fueling his music with a raw power that carries us along with him on his own journey of loss and redemption.
Lanza’s joined on the album by Sandy Joren on bass, Vin Mott on drum (and harp on “Walkin’ Thru the Park”), Randy Wall and Arne Wendt on keys, Steve Krase and Don Erdman on harp, and the Cranberry Lake Horns, with the Robernaires doing background vocals.
The album kicks off with a rockabilly-flavored version of Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business” that features such soulful horns on the instrumental bridge that the song carries us back to the early days of rock and roll in songs like “Rock Around the Clock.” Lanza makes it his own, though, with his blazing solos in the second bridge; his riffs have a hint of Alvin Lee’s powerful riffs from “Rock and Roll Music to the World.”
The jazz-inflected “Time to Let Go” is a tribute to his mother; he reminisces that “when you were here we had a whole of fun,” and then reminds her that “your job is done.” He thanks her for the love she’s shared with him and for having his back even when he was bad and recalls her lessons that “this too shall pass” and to “always have faith in humanity.” “When the Sun Comes Up” recalls the best of early Savoy Brown, especially the Looking In album, and Lanza’s powerful guitar licks—channeling Kim Simmonds—and his growling vocals offer the secret of life: it’s always gonna be better tomorrow in the light of a new day: “when the sun come up/it’s gonna be a brand new day/when the sun come up/I’m gonna feel a brand new way.”
The highlight of the album is Lanza’s straight-down-to-the bone blues, “Rush’n the Blues.” His guitar moans in perfect call and response to Randy Wall’s B3 organ and the Cranberry Lake Horns; the song weaves these sounds in such a mellifluous way that we don’t want the tune to end. Lanza and his band turn in a soulfully knock down of Percy Mayfield’s “Love Me or Leave Me,” which opens with a barroom piano that leads into Lanza’s lounge-like vocals.
Lanza delivers healing and restoration on Time to Let Go; he’s clearly moving on to the places his music takes him, and we’re wise to follow him as our guide into a brand new day.