Ghost Town Blues Band – Shine
Blues, soul, rock, R&B and all sorts of other good stuff get brewed up in the latest album from Memphis’ own Ghost Town Blues Band. This, their 5th releases, oozes with good sounds, slick production and just a superb mix of music and vocals. Matt Isbell and Taylor Orr have crafted up a dozen new songs and Kevin Houston has produced a marvelous album with beautiful sounds and mixes for us to savor. Matt and Taylor are on guitars and vocals as always and Matt adds some harp, too. Kevin also joins the fray on sax and adds to the horn section with the inimitable Suavo Jones on trombone; Jones also adds trumpet and vocals and raps for us on “Dirty.” Matt Karner is on bass and vocals and Andrew McNeil handles the drums, percussion and vocals. Last but certainly not least, we have Cedric Taylor on B3, piano and vocals. Guests are noted in the track comments.
“Running Out of Time” is a southern rocker that has a nice midtempo swing to it. The guitars, trombone, sax and organ are packaged up nicely and Orr’s vocals are solid. The pace quickly picks up with the driving beat of ‘Soda Pop.” Isbell growls out the vocals and blows some harp as this cigar box-sliding cut revs it’s engines full throttle. Glorious slide mixes with Jones’ blaring horn and Isbell’s gritty vocals. The husband and wife duo of Paul DesLauriers and Annika Chambers provide outstanding vocals support on the title cut. There is some really fine guitar work here along with outstanding organ and trombone. The backline offers up a great groove, too. “Lyin’ To Yourself” is a sweet blues rocker with a Gregg Allman B3 sound and gritty vocals. A big, stinging guitar solo and piano fills make this even more special. Next up is “Givin’ It All Away,” a song that begins with some pretty piano and organ and a nice overlaid set of musical sounds from the various instruments. It breaks into a driving and big time upbeat cut. This is the closest thing to a jam band cut on the CD. At over 8 minutes, the boys air out a bunch of things, and it’s all good. Whether it’s Suavo on his trombone, Matt and Taylor of guitar, Kevin on sax, or Cedric on keys, this is some really cool stuff. “Dirty” rounds out the first half of the album. It’s a darker and slow to mid tempo cut. The vocals include some slick rapping by Jones, a nice touch.
“High Again” has a nice groove and the band responds to Isbell’s vocals calls sweetly. The guitars, horns and organ do another great job here, too. Up next is “My Father’s Son” which has a cool guitar instrumental opening and a soulful vocal delivery by Isbell. The STAX inferences are strong here as they are throughout. “Evangelie”has another Allman sort of feel for me with the dual guitars ringing together. I could see this as a Dickey Betts cut. Isbell growls out the lead and the band just gets into it with him. Organ and guitar trade some licks and everyone gets into the act. “Carry Me Home” opens with a vibe that reminds me of “Soulshine” and then turns more lamentful and blues ballad-like. Blending soul, gospel, rock and blues, the sound of this one is very well crafted. In “Heading Nowhere Fast” acoustic and electric guitar blend and kick off this sweet southern blues rocker. The tune builds and builds as the band gets more and more into the cut and gives the listener a joyous ride. The concluding tune “Hey There Lucinda,” a slow song about a father calling and very much missing his daughter. It’s a pretty cut with slide and organ that add to the feeling. More acoustic guitar layered in and some fiddle by Ilana Katz Katz, too. Just a sweet and layered Well done!
This is Ghost Town Blues Band. If you are looking for a traditional shuffle or slow Chicago blues, well, you ain’t gonna find it here. What you will find here are 12 finely crafted new sounds with great lyrics, superb musician ship, a great mix and an outstanding production. This is by far their finest effort. No covers, no overdone jam band stuff, just solid modern blues and southern rock with a few shout outs to STAX and the heritage of music made in Memphis. This is Ghost Town emerging from the larva into a fantastic and beautiful butterfly. Always edgy and cool, they now add a new level of excellence to their music.