Jack de Keyzer – Solo | Album Review

Jack de Keyzer – Solo

Blue Star Records – 2024


13 tracks; 39 minutes

Like many musicians during Covid, Canadian guitarist Jack de Keyzer filled the period of no gigs by revisiting tunes by great bluesmen of the past and recording them on the musicians’ date of birth. Thirteen of those efforts are included on this release which finds Jack playing everything you hear (apart from one appearance by sax player Richard Thornton); Jack plays acoustic and electric guitar, rack harmonica, bass and percussion, as well as all vocals. A genuinely home grown effort, Jack recorded, mixed, mastered and produced the album himself.

The material includes songs that date back to the earliest days of recorded music and extends into the 1960’s. The first five songs here were all written by blues greats: Robert Wilkins’ “That’s No Way To Get Along”, Robert Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues” and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Shake ‘Em On Down” are all solo acoustic versions, J.B. Lenoir’s “Feeling Good” adds sax and congas and Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee” is performed on electric guitar with rack harmonica and maracas played against a guitar case! Jack tackles two of Lead Belly’s best known tunes, “Black Betty” and “Gallis Pole”, as well as Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Black Snake Moan”, all played on acoustic guitar. For Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” Jack straps on his Gibson ES 330, adds harp and an overdubbed second guitar part.

Four songs are drawn from sources closer to rock and soul. “Baby Let’s Play House” was written by Arthur Gunter and covered by Elvis, so Jack plays it in appropriately rockabilly style with two guitars, bass and drums overdubbed. “Share Your Love” was a hit for Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and Jack plays a respectful and soulful version on his Strat while he attempts to emulate Steve Winwood’s distinctive vocal style on an acoustic “Can’t Find My Way Home”. Perhaps the most left-field choice is “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You” which most will remember from Led Zeppelin’s debut album; Jack correctly adds original composer Anne L Bredon to the usual Page/Plant credits and does a good job on the tune which, at 5.29 is by some distance the longest cut on the album.

Throughout the album Jack sings and plays very well and it is an enjoyable run through some classic tunes. Certainly a useful way to fill the down time during Covid!

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