Inner Limits – Hit the Highway | Album Review

Inner Limits – Hit the Highway


CD: 9 Songs, 42:18 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Debut Album 

Three jauntily-dressed gentlemen Hit the Highway, bags and instruments in hand, on the cover of the debut album from Oregon’s Inner Limits. This trio has smooth SRV-type style and considerable guitar proficiency. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that eight of their nine initial offerings are covers that have been covered time and again. They do their level best on “Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Stormy Monday,” and “Got My Mojo Working” et al., but their arrangements don’t surpass the originals. With that said, their energy and enthusiasm are commendable – used in real-deal blues. On vocals, their harmonies are seamless as the flavors of Neapolitan ice cream.

In September of 1981, at nine years old, leading man Olem Alves soaked up a river of twelve-bar blues from his mentor, James Thornbury. Three years later, James was swept away by the legendary band Canned Heat. Before he hit the road, he scratched out the lyrics to a song called “Hit the Highway,” and he said, “Here’s one last tune to remember me by. Maybe you’ll record it one day.” Thornbury passed away in 2017. Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Olem travelled back in time to his basement and revisited the charts James had penned on the backs of posters being housed in a dusty box. Over the following months, Inner Limits began to rehearse these songs and bring new life and meaning to them. With people beginning to notice such tunes at live shows, the band thought it would be a good time to record a blues and tribute album. Bravo!

Joining Olem Alves (lead vocals and guitar) are Jesse Greenlee on drums and vocals, and Torrey Newhart on keyboards and vocals.

The title track catches listeners’ attention with its a cappella, three-part harmony on the intro.

Track 01: “Hit the Highway” – Wanderlust is a common theme in the blues, and this CD’s first track explores it with gusto: “Night’s falling, baby. The hard road is calling me. Take my blues and troubles and walk down Highway 3.” Not every opener has to blast its way into one’s ears and heart; therefore, Inner Limits strikes a perfect balance between mellow and intense. Dig the guitar solo in the middle and spot-on organ keyboards. The big highlight, though, is the singing.

Inner Limits has paid fair tribute to the old masters on their debut release. Let’s hope that next time, they’ll explore the outer limits of wholly original material.

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