Brad Hatfield – For A Change | Album Review

bradhatfieldcdBrad Hatfield – For A Change

Self-Release – 2014

12 tracks; 49 minutes

Cincinnati-based bluesman Brad Hatfield was left paralysed after an accident at work.  Forced to abandon the guitar, Brad learnt harmonica from scratch at age 30 and his first album Uphill From Anywhere was so well received that he won a BMA nomination in 2013 for Best New Artist.  For his sophomore album Brad has enlisted go-to producer Tom Hambridge who assembled a great team of players to back Brad on this album.  Tom plays drums with Tommy McDonald on bass, Bob Britt on guitar and Kevin McKendree on keys.  Brad sings and plays some harp though the main focus is on Brad’s voice.  He contributed three of the songs, one in collaboration with Tom who supplied all the remaining material, mainly with his usual writing colleagues, Gary Nicholson and Richard Fleming.  The result is a solid album of blues that should have wide appeal.

The album opens with the short rocker “That’s My Home” which lets us hear Brad’s gravelly voice on a track that has lashings of aggressive drumming from Tom and a wild solo from Bob.  The song is lyrically a close cousin of Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, Brad preferring to leave his suitcase as a marker! Tom and Gary’s “Back Door Scratchin’” is a great rocker with Kevin’s organ providing a swirling background to Brad’s vocal and harp.  “Behave Yourself” has a country blues feel with Kevin’s rolling piano and Bob on slide.  The song demonstrates that Brad can adapt his vocal effectively to a gentler style.  “Smarter Than I Was” has some excellent guitar from Bob whose echoey slide is double-tracked over an insistent rhythm part, Tom’s drums adding to the generally menacing tone of the tune.  The rocking “Devil On Both Shoulders” has a great hook and an amusing chorus: “Looking for some loving, she’s ready to shop; like Coke in a bottle she’s ready to pop.  Devil on both shoulders, what’s a woman to do; Devil on both shoulders, her good girl days are through”.  Everyone plays superbly, Kevin pounding the 88’s and Bob’s keening slide both featured.

Brad and Tom wrote “So Much, So Little”, a tale of a small lady with a big heart: “How she does so much, man, so much with so little”.  Brad plays some high pitched harp on this one but Kevin’s honky-tonk piano is the star turn here.  Brad’s own “Never Finished Nothin’” is a slow blues with Kevin double tracked this time as his piano solo is beautifully framed by his own organ, Brad singing of how he did manage to finish with the girl, despite his track record!  A fine harp solo from Brad completes the song well.  The guitar on “Good Love After Bad” recalls classic Allman Brothers with Brad’s voice sounding quite a lot like Gregg and the organ and guitar blending well.  Andy T and Nick Nixon used “Drink, Drank, Drunk” as the title of their 2013 album release but here Tom and Gary’s song is played at a much faster rhythm to create a very different feel.  Some moody electric piano introduces the title track “For A Change” which namechecks several familiar blues images (‘Crawling Kingsnake’, Back Door Man’, ‘Mean Mistreater’, etc.) as Brad offers to bring some comfort to his girl.  Bob plays some appropriately swampy slide guitar to accompany the imagery and more slide from Bob features on Tom’s “Swamp Poker”, entirely appropriately as Brad sings of playing cards in the swamps, more crawling kingsnakes appearing alongside the inevitable crocodiles.  Brad’s own “Burbank’s Boogie” features Kevin’s piano on a frantic boogie tune to close the album.

There is plenty to enjoy on this lively album.  Give it a listen.

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