Elias Bernet Band – Better Off With The Blues
15 songs – 51 minutes
Elias Bernet is a Swiss blues and boogie-woogie pianist and Better Off With The Blues is The Elias Bernet Band’s third album. Given the ubiquity of electric guitars in so many modern blues, it is both refreshing and invigorating to listen to an album where the keyboards sit front and foremost.
The Elias Bernet Band comprises Bernet on piano, Hammond organ and vocals, Markus Fritsche on double bass and backing vocals and Bernhard Egger on drums. They are joined on various tracks by David Stauffacher on percussion and Freda Goodlett on backing vocals. All 15 tracks were written by Bernet together with Lilly Martin.
The album comes roaring out of the blocks with the Hammond-driven upbeat shuffle of the title track. Fritsche and Egger lay down an irresistible groove over which Bernet’s organ soars and swings. The breakneck boogie woogie of the appropriately titled “Light That Fire” and the funky flash of “Monkey Juice” up the pace and the intensity before the gospel ballad of “See What Lies Deeper” permits the listener to take a breath.
Bernet is an outstanding keyboardist, happily flipping between the New Orleans rhumba of “Johnny The Roller”, the wild soul blues of “Rattle Shake And Squeeze”, the swinging blues “It’s All Hidden Inside Yourself” or the Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired rock and roll of “A Little R’n’R”. On a track like “Never Look Down”, he plays with a fleet-fingered wild abandon, always keeping just to the right side of loss of control. He is given superb support throughout by Fritsche and Egger, whose control of the dynamics on a track like “Heavy Load” is particularly impressive.
The closing track, “Let Your True Self Shine” captures the album in a microcosm. With a toe-tapping groove, the track contains a sparkling piano solo as well as a wonderful vocal refrain. Its optimistic, positive lyrical message reflects the generally buoyant tone of the album overall.
Better Off With The Blues was recorded by Felix Muller at Tonstudio Nagelfabrik, Wetzikon in Switzerland, with mixing by Zach Allen at The Red Room in Nashville, TN, and mastering by Dan Suter at Echo Chamber in Zurich, Switzerland. Together they have caught some superb performances with impressive clarity. On “Overload”, Bernet accompanies himself on just the piano, but the sound is full, muscular and meaty.
Better Off With The Blues is a very impressive release from a very impressive band. Well worth investigating.