Jim Gustin & Truth Jones – Lessons Learned
The gravelly voiced Jim Gustin and the power house voiced Truth Jones have released their third album with 11 new cuts. They were 2020 International Blues Challenge Semi-Finalists who represented their home of Santa Clarita, CA. Truth Jones (born Jeri Goldenhar) stands six feet tall and has a voice and presence to match her stature. Jim Gustin is a raspy and guttural vocalist who wields a powerful guitar sound.
The band is Steve Alterman on piano and organ, Scott Dunsan on bass and Chuck Strong on drums. All three also provide vocal backing. Lawrence Tamez is the band’s saxophonist and does a superb job on the horn in his support. These guys all do a fine job along with Gustin and Jones. Jim Scimonetti also adds some sax and Lee Thornburg (Tower Of Power) also appears on trumpet.
The CD begins with the romping “I’d Been Drinkin’” with both Gustin and Jones sharing the vocal duties. The sax blares and the guitar blazes as they and the band open the album in a forthright manner. There’s also a little trumpet in there. “I Heard About You” follows with Jones in the lead and some nice organ work and a guitar solo. Sax and trumpet fill nicely. “The Truth” is a cut with a driving beat and featuring the gutsy vocals of Gustin. A guitar solo and good backing vocals by Jones fill this one out well; the organ and guitar take us home to close things out. He ballad “When This Ship Sails” is a sultry and emotive cut with sax and piano backing up Jones. Thoughtful instrumental work on guitar, piano and sax make this one interesting, along with Jones’ lead vocals. “I Hate To See You Go” is a throbbing and dirty sort of cut with a sexy vibe as Gustin growls and moans. The sax blisters and the guitar cuts deeply in support. “Never Forget” is another duet where the two of them give a lesson in how a lady should be treated. Piano and guitar share solo time as Gustin and Jones school the listener that, “She might forgive you but she’ll never forget.”
The sax gets “All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues” off to a big start and Jones delivers some big vocals as the piano, sax and guitar give us good solos. “Never Too Big For The Blues” is a down home sort of duet with Crooked Eye Tommy Marsh on slide and LeRoi Hansen on harp in support. “Rockslide” is just what the titles says, a rocking and bold cut with Gustin singing and playing with affirmation and as piano, sax and trumpet offer stout support. “My Love Is True” is a pretty and slow blues with jazzy overtones as the sax offers a long and pretty opening. Jones and Gustin once again share the vocal lead as they build and build into an emotional peak. The album finishes up with gospely “Three Things,” a song about faith, hope and love as Gustin and Jones tell us to keep our chins up and make the world a better place. Gustin’s guitar rings like a church bell of hope as the two deliver a nice finale to their CD.
All in all, this is a well crafted album. Gustin’s vocals are harsh but not hard, gritty yet emotional. He grabs the listener and does not let go. Jones has a powerful set of pipes and can go from sultry and seductive to in your face with equal authenticity and feeling. They make quite the interesting pair vocally. Gustin’s guitar is powerful but never over done or over stated. The band in support is solid and together. I enjoyed the CD and those liking blues with a cool, soulful, rocking and jazzy side that takes you from the bar room to the sanctuary at church will, too!