Blind Pig Records – 2015
12 tracks; 52 minutes
Albert Cummings’ latest release was recorded in LA with a new producer in David Z and a new studio band of Tony Braunagel on drums, Mike Finnegan on keys (both Phantom Blues Band members) and Reggie McBride on bass. Albert handles lead guitar and vocals and there are guest appearances by Jimmy Vivino who plays guitar on three tracks and Teresa James who adds backing vocals throughout.
Albert’s hallmarks are solid guitar very much in SRV mode and heartfelt vocals and both are very much present and correct here on an entirely original program. Opener “No Doubt” is at the heavier end of Albert’s range with plenty of chugging guitar and stabbing organ fills as Albert tells of problems with his girl staying out late at night – no doubt something is wrong! “I Found You” is more melodic with a soulful vocal from Albert and some nice support work from Jimmy’s second guitar, Mike’s organ filling out the sound well and Teresa’s b/v’s well in evidence. The next track “Up Your Sleeve” has a Texas blues strut feel and a typical barnstormer of a solo from Albert. A change of style on “Movin’ On” finds Albert playing some insistent fingerpicking guitar with Mike on electric piano, the combination bringing a bouncy country blues feel to the tune. Albert states in the sleeve notes that his wife Christina is the motivation for most of his songs and “So Strong” is one of the best here, a ballad that wears its heart on its sleeve as Albert sings of the solid relationship that he has with his wife: “I don’t know why I do what I do, I think it’s just because I’m crazy about you”. The love expressed in the lyrics translates into some of Albert’s most expressive playing on the album in a graceful solo. Lyrically “Finally In Love” follows on seamlessly, a mid-paced rocker with some tougher guitar from Albert and the uptempo “Make Up Your Mind” has plenty of Albert’s trademark guitar riffs with a strident solo that is less enjoyable.
The longest cut on the album is the slow blues “Little Bird” and at seven minutes it provides plenty of opportunities for Albert and Jimmy to demonstrate their chops, Mike on very bluesy piano in support. Perhaps emboldened by the previous joint effort Albert and Jimmy combine on the uptempo instrumental “Meatlockers” which fairly zips along with Mike on cool Jimmy Smith style organ and an overall jazzy feel to the performance. We return firmly to the blues with a traditional mid-pace piece entitled “I’m In Love With You”, Albert’s solo developing from low notes to a scream. “Old Dog” goes back to the Texas shuffle style, Albert adopting a gruffer tone as he warns other dogs off from HIS bone and he closes the album with a fine piece of blazing rock and roll in “Stay Away From My Sister” on which everyone seems to be having fun.
Albert’s rough and ready style of playing has made him many fans and this CD will not disappoint them. Plenty of solid guitar playing here for the AC die hards and something for most blues fans to enjoy if guitar-led, uptempo material is your enthusiasm.