Ben Levin – Take Your Time
At age 22, people are talking about Ben Levin as a veteran blues musician. This is his fourth Vizztone release; his prior work has garnered nominations for Blues Blast Music awards in Debut Album of the Year,” “Sean Costello Rising Star Award,” and “Keyboard Player of the Year.” This year, he was also nominated for a Blues Music Award for his piano skills. This young man from Cincinnati is a hot commodity whose star is rapidly rising. He’s been playing piano since the age of 7 and this is actually his 5th album.
Joining Ben here are Bob Stroger (lead vocals and bass) , Lil’ Ed Williams (lead vocals and guitar), Lil’ Jimmy Reed lead vocals and guitar), Johnny Burgin (guitar), Noah Wotherspoon (guitar), Aron Levin (guitar), Walter Cash (bass), Ricky Nye (drums), Shorty Starr (drums) and Kris Butler (conga). Levin handles all the piano duties and sings on four cuts. He also wrote five of the songs.
The CD opens with Levin on vocals in his song “Take Your Time.” His jumping piano and fine vocals make this one great and Burgin’s smooth guitar adds well to the mix. Stroger fronts the band like the pro he is. Stellar piano once again helps make this special. Wotherspoon offers us a nice solo here, too. Lil’ ed sings the classic “Why Do Things Happen To Me” and plays some tasty guitar, too. This is beautiful, slow blues with Ed and Ben excelling on their instruments. Lil’ Jimmy Reed sings and plays on “I’ve Been Drinking Muddy Water,” a great cover of this blues shuffle. Levin’s piano once again gives the listener something to appreciate.
Ed returns for “Hole In The Wall,” a cool jump blues and shares the vocal lead with Levin. It’s a fun cut that romps and swings. Great slide and piano are featured here. Levin leads “Out Of Your Own Way,” a fine original tune. Burgin plays guitar on this one and does a great job, too. Stroger fronts the band for “Bad Boy,” the super Eddie Taylor song. Wotherspoon’s guitar and Levin’s piano both are solid here on this pretty, slow blues. Lil’ Jimmy Reed returns for “You Know You’re Fine.” Here we gets some more outstanding piano as Reed and the band lay out some fine music for us to enjoy.
“Longer Hours, Shorter Pay” is a nice original by Ben and his dad who are both featured on their instruments as Lil’ Ed howls out the lead vocals and plays guitar in his inimitable style. The Levins’ also wrote “Lump Of Coal,” and Lil’ Jimmy Reed fronts the group for this cool and slow blues. Little Milton’s “Love You Baby” features Levin and Stroger on vocals and Wotherspoon on guitar. Bob answers Ben’s call in this jumping and slick cover. The finale is “Mr. Stroger’s Strut,” a super instrumental with Bob on bass, stinging guitar by Noah and striding piano by Levin; Ben also wrote the piece.
This is an outstanding album from top to bottom. Levin has assembled a wonderful team of musicians to joining him on this album. He’s developed into a great singer and his piano skills are just amazing. If you like piano blues then look no further – this one is a winner!. Kudos to Ben for delivering another truly first-class and outstanding album! I most highly recommend this album.