Blue Cat Groove – Too Much Talk | Album Review

bluecatgroovecdBlue Cat Groove – Too Much Talk

Self-produced CD

10 songs – 37 minutes

Blue Cat Groove is a collection of four award-winning veteran musicians based in Worcester, Mass., who deliver their own brand of rock-flavored rhythm-and-blues.

Assembled two years ago and led by guitarist Samuel Bowen, the band has become a regional favorite at clubs and festivals, and just missed out on 2015 Band Of The Year honors in awards sponsored by Limelight Magazine, the web-based entertainment publication that covers the entire New England region.

The unit is fronted by vocalist Kimberly Hodgens-Smith, a Nashville native, who possesses a dynamic alto voice. She was formerly a member of Crossfire, the Southern rock band based in Knoxville, Tenn., and is a founding member of Trophies Of Grace. Bowen doubles on electric and acoustic guitars. They’re backed by a rhythm section of Jeff “The Doctor” Oosterman on bass and Ohio native Vinnie “Cleveland” Depolo on drums, and all three of the men contribute backing vocals. Alan Handel makes a guest appearance on guitar for one cut.

A follow-up to their debut eponymous release, Too Much Talk was produced by Bowen, who composed all of the originals. Not to be confused with a tune with a similar title that appeared in the Sylvester Stallone film, The Expendables, “Sinners Prayer,” a new number with a decidedly rock edge, kicks off the action. A simple four-note guitar hook repeats throughout as Kimberly belts out a request for mercy if she’s done anyone wrong. The same statement holds true for the next number, “Power Of Love,” which isn’t the Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit, but an original with a syncopated backbeat.

A stripped-down, slow tempo cover of the T-Bone Walker chestnut “Stormy Monday” provides an aural break from the two rockers before it. Kimberly’s sultry delivery is smooth and behind the beat. It precedes the album’s cover tune, “Too Much Talk,” a complaint about a lover who can’t feel the world turning under his feet. It’s the first number on the disc that allows Bowen room to stretch out on the strings.

Kimberly’s Nashville roots are on display during the tender “Heaven Rain Down,” a medium shuffle about a woman who needs help – and needs it now. “Small Things” is an acoustic blues ballad about the problems we face in a world where tiny mistakes can create big problems for folks who have both faith and belief in everything you say. The theme continues in “Is It Safe,” which flows over a tasty, but simple minor-key guitar hook as it questions whether or not a lover is lying when the singer’s perceptions are blinded by love.

“One Of Us” is a deeply spiritual number that speculates what if God “were one of us,” and asks if you could ask Him one question, what would that question be? A funky bass line introduces “Hold Us Together,” about a woman desperate for help to overcome a situation where the man she truly adores is unemployed and life is breaking down around them. The album concludes with an exceptionally strong cover of the Negro spiritual “Wade In The Water,” which was recorded live.

Available through CDBaby, Too Much Talk is a solid effort throughout, and the original material is fresh and worth a listen.

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