Ty Curtis – Blame Me
10 Tracks; 45 minutes
Ty Curtis has cred. He came out of Salem, Oregon when he was very young (he’s just 29) in 2007 to take second place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He has been widely praised at a leading figure in the next generation of blues players. His earlier albums, Cross The Line in particular, would support that claim.
This album steps away from that earlier vibe. The songwriting is much more rock than blues oriented. But not just rock, it sounds like the songs have been heavily influenced by 70’s rock. The chord progressions, the arrangements, the playing style all harken back to that time. And when it does move away from rock, it goes more toward blue-eyed soul than blues.
Curtis has a terrific voice, and on his earlier work you can really feel its unique timbre and expressiveness. On this album, it sounds more like Paul Rodgers of Bad Company than of Ty Curtis. I love Paul Rodgers’s voice, but I have also been impressed by Ty Curtis’s voice. The mix on this CD does not do his voice justice. It is a little buried in the music, which strains the emotional connection that in the past riveted the listener with its immediacy.
So within this context, how is this album? Solid. Curtis is a very good guitarist and he doesn’t confuse shredding with musicianship. His solos serve the songs, with great tone and expression.
The CD launches with “That Good”, a mid-tempo rock song in the Bad Company style. It is well supported by Jeff Bryant’s superb work on the B3 and an overall terrific band.
This is followed by “Blame Me”, a really great high-energy rocker that, to my mind, would have been a better candidate for the lead track on the album. Everything works here – guitar, Hammond, rhythm section. It’s well crafted to grab and hold the listener.
A standout track is “Heaven Save Me”, a lyrically interesting, slow lament that illustrates Curtis’s blues roots. There are hints of the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald in the vocals – Curtis’s grit replaced by smooth ballad tones. His guitar work fits the mood perfectly with a sweet, mournful tone.
“Shake It Up” continues the somewhat melancholy mood. In fact, while this song is not exactly like the previous one, it is certainly in the same wheelhouse. That would sum up any criticism of this album. The songs are very good, but there is a sameness to them. Chord patterns are similar, dynamics are similar, mood is similar.
There is one song that is unlike any other on the CD, and that is “Urge And Temptation”, a reggae rhythm tune that steps out of the mold. Not sure that it really works, but it does make a nice change.
Ty Curtis is an excellent musician and shows a lot of promise as a songwriter. Like any artist, the road he follows will take him down many paths. This particular part of the journey is a nice one to tag along with for 45 minutes, enjoying an excellent band, a very good musician and an outstanding singer.
I know I’ll be watching for his next CD.