Jeff McCarty – Step Out | Album Review

Jeff McCarty – Step Out

Whiskey Bayou Records

11 songs – 51 minutes

Even though he’s a multi-instrumentalist with a long history in the Louisiana music scene, Jeff McCarty steps into the spotlight as a vocalist on this debut album, and he couldn’t have done it better . Not only is he backed by an all-star band, but he’s produced by Tab Benoit, who plays drums behind him and produced the CD on his own record label.

Step Out blends soul, rock, country and the blues into a pleasant gumbo, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of McCarty’s fans deep in the bayou. As a musician, he’s graced the stage with a wide variety of talents, including George Jones, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson to REO Speedwagon, Styx and Bonham as well as many of the top names locally.

With the exception of one cover, Jeff’s written all of the material here, sharing credit with Benoit on seven of the 10 originals. The material ranges from love and loss to dreams of success and spirituality. Even though they both hail from Houma along the Gulf Coast, they’d known each other but never played together before this project. “Once we sat down and started writing…that was the fuel for the fire,” McCarty says. “He’s a great co-writer, and helped a lot with the lyrics and arrangements.”

All of the musicians here are based in south Louisiana. Bassist Corey Duplechin, who’s worked regularly with Tab and Chubby Carrier, anchors the bottom with Josh Garrett and Tillis Verdin, who shine on guitar and keyboards.

McCarty’s tenor voice is crisp and soulful on the upbeat opener, “One World, One Life, One People,” which notes that despite all of our individual differences, “the air is the same for everyone.” It’s a pleasant, percussive blues-flavored rocker. The driving “My Soul Will Never Be Free” takes its time as describes the torment of losing the love of a lady who has everything the singer needs, but can no longer have.

The theme continues with the blues ballad, “Angel Fly,” which urges the lady to return home to arms that will never leave her alone. The tempo picks up a little for the soulful title tune “Step Out,” which advises to keep moving forward in life rather than living with your head in the clouds. A cover of Bad Company’s “Live For The Music” gets a funk treatment before the tender ballad, “Love,” which sings praise of the blessing because that’s the only thing the couple have got.

McCarty describes a musician’s life on the road in the mellow “A Thousand Miles To You,” which promises to stay with the lady forever, before the action heats up with the loping “Dance With Me Baby,” a new tune that springs from familiar blues roots. The bayou waters run deep and strong in the two-step ballad “Make Our Love Stronger” before the funky “Figure It Out” advises that it’s time for the lady to stay home instead of running the streets with “the tramp who lives next door.” The disc concludes with the rocker “Let’s Ride,” an anthem that the singer will keep believing in his own success while stating that it’s “time to throw down” and have a good time.

Available from Amazon, iTunes and other online retailers, Step Out is a rock-solid debut for McCarty. All of the material is unhurried, fresh and original despite the familiar themes. This one’s right up your alley if you like your music modern, laid back and with a strong, soulful Southern sound.

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