11 songs – 54 minutes
The Healing is the sixth solo CD from singer/keyboardist/songwriter, Dave Keyes, a sideline he runs in addition to his regular gigs with Pope Chubby, Ronnie Spector, Slam Allen and Alexis P. Suter as well as writing for television and media.
Featuring nine original tracks plus two covers, The Healing is a highly enjoyable collection of blues, roots and Americana, often served up with some gospel spice too. Opening with the distinctive shuffle of “Change” it is immediately clear that this is blues with a twist. It’s a shuffle with a kicking harp solo from Rob Paparozzi and a pure blues slide guitar solo from Arthur Neilson, but the track’s chord progression and the jazz-tinged piano solo give it a memorably different flavor.
The upbeat gospel-pop of “Dance In The Dark” features Keyes on B-3 while “Not So Nice Anymore” mines the roots rock seam with a punchy solo from Popa Chubby.
Keyes has brought a wide range of his friends to play on different tracks on the album, including guitarists Chubby, Arthur Neilson and George Naha, harmonica player Rob Paparozzi, bassist David J. Keyes, drummers Frank Pagano and Stephen Rushton, saxophonist Chris Eminizer, trumpet player Tim Ouimette and Diane Cricchio and The Ministers of Sound on backing vocals. The wonderful Vaneese Thomas adds her distinctive vocals to the bouncing “Ain’t Looking For Love” with its wry chorus: “Some folks are looking for love, some folks are looking for sex. Some don’t know the difference…that’s when the whole thing turns into one big mess” while The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir lend powerful backing vocals to one of the many highlights of the album, the slow gospel-blues of “Faith Grace Love and Forgiveness”, with more excellent guitar from Neilson.
Of the covers, Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” is re-imagined as a loping, New Orleans-style groove while Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening” is played at a wicked clip with roaring backing vocals from The Ministers Of Sound.
Keyes is a top drawer keyboard player, laying down a series of smart solos and fills on piano, B3, Wurlitzer and other assorted keys (the pounding piano barrelhouse instrumental, “Boogie For Stefan” is almost worth the price of admission by itself). He is also a fine singer with an unaffected yet powerfully emotional voice.
Lyrically, the theme that links many of the tracks on The Healing is the importance of holding onto our faith that things will get better. As Keyes writes in the CD liner notes, “With all that is going on, I knew it was time to make this album….” As a result, even the slower tracks, such as “Take You Back”, have a message of positivity and belief.
Superbly recorded at a number of different studios around New York and New Jersey (including Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City, Serpentine Sound in Central Valley and Mission Sound in Brooklyn), with some stellar performances from the musicians, if you want to hear some powerfully uplifting modern blues, gospel and roots music, The Healing is highly recommended.