Number 7 Records/Vizzable 2015
14 tracks; 60 minutes
Jay Stollman was recently invited to front the Johnny Winter band on vocals for a tribute tour to the late guitar slinger and his debut CD is an interesting listen with plenty of fine music ranging across blues, rock and blue-eyed soul. Jay hails from the East Coast and appeared on Debbie Davies’ last album “Love Spin”; Debbie returns the favor by playing guitar on most of this album, alongside two other guitarists in Andy Abel and Jeremy Goldsmith. Bass duties are handled by Scott Spray (from Johnny Winter’s band) and Johnny Mennonna, drums are either Tommy Nagy or Gerald Myles, Matt Zeiner is on keys and Kevin Totoian adds harp to two tracks. Jay wrote five of the songs, four with bassist Scott, one with guitarist Andy; the covers range widely from Lonnie Johnson to Motown.
The album opens with a solid cover of Walter Trout’s “Ride Till I’m Satisfied” with Debbie playing some tasty lead lines and Jay sounding quite a lot like Walter on vocals. The original “I’m Done” rocks along on some great slide work from Andy as Jay says goodbye to the relationship with a warning to future partners that things will not last long with this lady! Johnny Winter’s “Tired Of Tryin’” has a similar theme lyrically, set over a Muddy Waters style riff and some nice harp work from Kevin. The source for “Lonesome In My Bedroom” is Luther Johnson, a slow blues with some particularly expressive playing from Debbie that matches Jay’s vocal well. Eddie Miller’s “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water” is a frequently covered song and here the band plays it as a fast shuffle, making it a very different listen to the usual cover – Debbie’s lead lines respond well to Jay’s vocals which are very strong on this tune. Another tune that is often covered is Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Jay plays it pretty straight but still delivers a fine version with some appropriately churchy organ from Matt and sympathetic guitar from Jeremy Goldsmith.
Jay takes us to Soul City with “Pucker Up Buttercup” (Johnny Bristol/Harvey Fuqua/Danny Coggins), a hit for Junior Walker & The Allstars back in the day and it’s another good cover which suits Jay’s voice well, Debbie helping out on the chorus vocals. Chuck Berry’s “Back To Memphis” is great fun and another excellent choice for Jay’s voice as he nails the cover perfectly (though the idea that you “can walk down Beale Street in your pajamas” definitely sounds as if it was written a while ago!). “Trouble” comes from the pen of Don Castagno, drummer and songwriter for Debbie’s band and it provides another change of pace with its Latin lilt and catchy chorus. “Can’t Slow Down” is an original that takes us into blues-rock territory with heavy drums, pumping bass and Andy tearing it up on guitar. Lonnie Johnson’s “Another Night To Cry” drops the pace a bit with some nice piano work and fine vocals from Jay, Andy providing the strong guitar solo.
The album closes with three originals, the first of which has a very familiar title – “Devil In Disguise”. However, led by Kevin’s harp, this is certainly not the Elvis Presley song, though it carries a similar message of caution. “Love Me And Leave Me” is a more old-fashioned blues with some nice slide from Andy matched up against Debbie’s lead lines. Lyrically the song is another one about the ending of relationships, Jay apparently quite happy to see this one end. The final song is Jay and Andy’s, an acoustic piece with Andy doubling up on acoustic and slide guitars and it is something of a positive footnote to the many tales of failed relationships on the album: “There’s room for one more mile in the journey, there’s room for one more step at the game; always room for trying, there ain’t no use denying, always room for something worth fighting for; there’s always room for one more.”
This is an enjoyable CD with plenty of fine musicianship. Jay has a good voice for the variety of styles on offer here and this debut CD is well worth your attention.