Delmark Records – 2017
13 tracks; 62 minutes
Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Corey Dennison is now a fixture on the Chicago club scene. The band’s second release on Delmark continues the successful blend of blues, soul and Rn’B shown on their self-titled debut, a CD that garnered several nominations including a Blues Blast nomination for Best Debut release in 2016. Corey wrote seven songs in tandem with Gerry Hundt, one by himself and there are five covers, including one by Carl Weathersby for whom Corey played guitar for twelve years prior to setting up his own band in 2013. Corey plays lead guitar and handles the vocals; Gerry Hundt plays guitar, organ and harp with Nik Skilnik on bass and Joel Baer on drums.
The band sets out its stall with an opening run of six originals that demonstrate the range of their talents. Opener “Hear My Plea” rolls along over a core riff as Corey begs for forgiveness in heart-rending style, a mix of soul, gospel and blues in his voice and some tasty licks from his guitar. “Misti” appeared on the last Kilborn Alley CD The Tolono Tapes but here is sung by Corey and is an early highlight, full-on soul-blues as Corey plays delightfully over warm organ while “I Get The Shivers” is a rocking shuffle which gets you moving and must be terrific live. “Better Man” is a slow and soulful piece that opens with Corey talking of those who have gone before him, and how those influences have made him what he is today. Possibly autobiographical, it is a strong song that delivers an emotional punch. We then move into soul/funk territory with the infectious “Phone Keeps Ringing” and “Nothing’s Too Good (For My Baby)” which sounds like a Motown track with its steady rhythm and tambourine but is Corey and Gerry’s take on the Motor City style, albeit with Memphis name-checked in the lyrics.
Carl Weathersby’s “Love Ain’t Fair” is a classic slow blues, beautifully played by Corey on guitar and Gerry on organ before the band’s eclecticism is well demonstrated with a lovely version of “Are You Serious”, a 1982 hit for Tyrone Davis, Corey getting great tone on guitar over funky bass and delicate percussion. “Nightcreeper 2 (Still Creepin’)” is a sequel to a title from The Tolono Tapes and the spoken intro is a conversation between Corey and an uncredited Andrew Duncanson before the band gets down and dirty on the funky tune. The last original finds Corey and Gerry exchanging licks on the extended slow blues “It’s So Easy” before three covers: The Cate Brothers’ “Stuck In Chicago” is another soulful piece; “Troubles Of The World” was most famously sung by Mahalia Jackson and Corey plays it in an upbeat style with a touch of funk but still retaining the gospel core of the song; “Down In Virginia” closes the album with a swagger as the band rock out on the Jimmy Reed tune. On each of these three cuts Corey’s guitar work is outstanding and suits the different styles of the three tunes perfectly.
This album is a strong follow-up to the band’s debut and should further underline their status as one of the leading young bands on the Chicago scene, as well as enhancing their reputation in the wider blues world. Readers can buy this one with confidence!