Bill Roseman – Outskirts | Album Review

Bill Roseman – Outskirts


CD: 12 Songs, 47 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Harmonica Blues, Zydeco, Hard Rock

Any city, any town, any area where people congregate, has its Outskirts. They’re close enough to the center to be considered part of that area, yet far enough away from the center to allow its own idiosyncrasies. The newest album from Bill Roseman (front man of the Bill Roseman Trio) is the epitome of its namesake. It’s close enough to its cobalt core to be considered blues, yet far enough away from the music of the old masters to allow for rock, harmonica, and zydeco to slip in. This allows for variation at the cost of recognition as pure blues. Never fear: it hits the spot.

On eleven original songs and one cover (Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings”), Roseman (guitar, lead vocals, and percussion), Philippe D’hautcourt (bass, backing vocals, accordion, keyboards and percussion), and Didier Fays (drums) entertain and ease one’s pain. Special guest stars include Ludo Beckers on harp, Francis Deschrijver on keys, and JP “Boule” Ghaye on piano, congas, backing vocals and percussion.

Roseman found himself inspired at an early age, via listening to rock, soul and zazz. Picking up a guitar at age thirteen, and inspired by electric bluesmen like Albert Collins and Buddy Guy, he set to learning blues guitar as his main form of expression.

Arriving in Europe in the ‘90s, Bill helped form the Medford Slim Band, which enjoyed success at the time, releasing a couple of CDs and playing the festival circuit, including the Belgium R + B festival in Peer, and the Amsterdam Blues Festival. Also during this period, he worked with the Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra and did a stint in Luke Walter Jr.’s solo group.

Roseman has played all over the Benelux, and in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the U.K., not to mention “back home” in clubs on the east coast from N.Y.C. to Philadelphia, PA.

Bill and his band play solid Chicago-style blues on the foot-stomping, hand-clapping opener, “Good Thing,” and then get “Checked Out” before they decide to “Shake It.” This third track is the perfect song to help one zone out, with a chill acoustic intro and mood-setting lyrics: “Some people stay out till the break of dawn, getting down, getting high, smoking that herb and drinking French wine. Dance to the music, thinking of a pick-me-up. Having no fear, chasing a whiskey with a beer.” Listeners will get the picture right away and even reminisce a bit, if they’ve been in the middle of such a scenario. Next comes the danceable “Sen-sa-Reedory,” featuring terrific guitar and understated piano keyboards, and “Jeanelle,” a zesty rock-zydeco blend, at number six. Perhaps their best number is twelve, their humble, heartfelt homage to Haggard himself.

Outskirts may lack the polish of other blues-rock albums, but it’s hearty, good-natured fun. Bill Roseman and his Trio know how to capture the mood of a honky-tonk and a barroom, not just sing or play about them. No wonder that they’ve made themselves at home across the globe!

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