CD: 10 Songs; 39:44 Minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, Ensemble Blues
More than any other genre of music, the blues may be called a nostalgic one. Pop and rock, for example, have always been about what’s new, the next “thing”, what goes viral, and what breaks new ground. From doo-wop to dubstep, novelty is the raison d’etre of these two musical types. Most blues fans, however, aren’t tired of listening to older songs in favor of newer ones. If that were the case, artists wouldn’t include many covers on their albums, figuring that listeners have grown bored with such standards as “Crosscut Saw” (featured below). However, Canada’s André Bisson knows that the more new blues sounds like traditional blues, the more its target audience of baby boomers, X’ers, and older Millennials will like it. Therefore, Bisson’s 2015 album Left with the Blues contains this same classic sound. It makes for easy listening, but some might wish he had more of a novel style and lyrical variety.
His website reveals: “André Bisson spent a large part of his formative years performing in bars and festivals in his hometown [of Ontario] prior to relocating to Hamilton to study at the acclaimed Applied Music Program at Mohawk College. It was here that Bisson, with his raspy and soulful voice, formed popular bands that would perform classic Rhythm & Blues and originals with his band André & the J-Tones.”
In this reviewer’s opinion, “raspy and soulful” are two adjectives that describe Rod Stewart, whom Bisson vocally resembles. However, Rod hits high notes and performs vocal tricks André can’t, which isn’t really his fault. Not everyone can be “Rod the Mod”. André pleases audiences, whether live or otherwise, and that’s what counts in the music business. To paraphrase René Descartes: “I have fans; therefore I am”, and Bisson has many.
With André on guitar, vocals, and piano are Bil Holinaty on alto, tenor and baritone sax; Loretta Hale on trumpet; Kevin Beeby on vocals and bass; and Glenn Paul on drums. Special guests include Pat Collins on upright bass; Jesse O’Brien on keyboards, B3 and Wurlitzer organs; Jason Logue and Robert Dickson on trumpet; Rob Somerville on trombone, and Crystal Lee on violin. Guest vocalists include JP and Deanna Shalala, Stacey Hunt, Theresa Charters, Rachel Moroz, and Patricia Labignan.
The following track, a cover, demonstrates the full range of Bisson and company’s musicianship:
Track 09: “Crosscut Saw” – “I’m a crosscut saw. Drag me across your log. I’ll cut your wood so easy for you, you can’t help but say, ‘Hot dog!’” This perennial favorite, performed by Tommy McClennan in 1941, makes no anatomical or metaphorical sense. However, it’s probably one of the top ten songs all blues artists play at some point in their careers. Everyone does a more-than-halfway-decent job, especially the band, but this version lacks all-consuming passion.
When “your love is ‘All I Need’, one lives on “Borrowed Time”, and a “Brand New Day” is dawning, one might be Left with the Blues, but also left with more worn clichés.