D’Mar & Gill – Take It Like That | Album Review

dmarandgillcdD’Mar & Gill – Take It Like That

Airtight Records – 2015

13 tracks; 58 minutes


Derrick Martin (D’Mar) and Chris Gill return with their second CD together, a pleasing mix of Mississippi blues and back porch feel.  D’Mar is a seasoned drummer whose eye-catching live performance, once seen, stays long in the memory; Chris Gill is a singer/songwriter and guitar player from Mississippi.  They are supported by Jerry ‘Groovemaster’ Jemmott or Kid Andersen on bass, with a few contributions from Bob Welsh on keys, Aki Kumar on harp, Frankie Ramos on sax and Lisa Andersen on backing vocals.

The album is another from the seemingly endless production line at Greaseland Studios in San José, CA, and producer/engineer Kid Andersen also plays second guitar on several tracks.  All the material is original with Chris writing seven of the songs himself and collaborating with other Mississippi artists on five others; the only song that Chris did not write is opener “I Fell In Love With The Blues” which was written by Virgil Brawley who also contributed to three others.

That opening tune sets the tone, rolling piano and harp embellishments providing a relaxed feel.  “Back To Paradise” also has a relaxed feel but some more serious lyrics as Chris refers to how “bombs shatter life’s fragile balance” and that “brotherhood and love, that’s what we really need”.  Chris plays some great slide on “Song For Honeyboy” over some assertive drumming from D’Mar and solid second guitar support from Kid and we come to realize that the title refers to Chris’ guitar, not to the late Honeyboy Edwards.  “

Souvenir Of The Blues” is a slower tune with a moody feel as Chris and Kid exchange notes on this minor key blues which is one of the standout tracks here.  Chris and Virgil’s “Dancin’ Girl” has more of a Mississippi feel, especially through Chris’ use of the cigar box guitar and vocals that sound distorted as if sung through a harp mike.  The romantic “You Never Know” finds Chris missing his girl, almost a reaction to the previous tune where he was clearly tempted by the ‘dancin’ girl’ of the title but here he is unreservedly faithful; just the duo on this one with some lovely guitar from Chris.

“Three Way Inn” sounds like a classic juke joint and a painting of such a place appears on the back cover of the CD.  Musically this one has a real retro feel, especially from D’Mar’s interesting percussion effects and Kid’s double bass.  On a fun set of lyrics Chris knows he has had a good time drinking because “you can tell by the smell”!  Bob’s piano takes us down south to Louisiana as Chris sings of voodoo, hoodoo and New Orleans on “Must Be Love” while the title track concerns the attractions of the Delta but brings in some Caribbean influences blended with rock and roll to provide a very catchy piece.

Chris moves into more of a country blues feel in his guitar and vocal on “Sweet Tooth” which is just a trio performance with D’Mar’s superb brushwork on drums and Jerry’s gently pulsing bass behind Chris’ slide, Lisa adding some nice vocal harmonies on the outro.  The cigar box gets a second outing on “Lonesome For Leavin’”, Chris sounding very lost and low down in his vocal as he declares that “They call me a rolling man, I got a tendency to roam”.  “Tore Down & Blue” has some good organ accompaniment and Kid’s almost reggae rhythm work behind Chris’ fine lead lines, the whole having a hypnotic effect, another winner.  The final track “Since I Saw You” adds Frankie Ramos’ alto sax on a positive song with a slightly old-fashioned feel.

Overall a pleasant and varied album that is definitely worth investigating.

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