Joe Flip – Home Sweet Home
Loud Folk Records – 2023
14 tracks; 55 minutes
Minnesota’s Joe Flip seems to be a busy guy. His website shows that he plays in a Texas covers band, is available for weddings, makes and sells oil can guitars and is a music educator involved in Blues In The Schools programs. However, for this review we are interested in his blues credentials: this is his second blues album, following an acoustic duo release Tin Can Tunes with Tony Cuchetti, an album that garnered a nomination for Acoustic Album Of The Year in the 2019 Blues Blast Awards. Here Joe shows a wider range of skills, playing all manner of guitars and handling the vocals, assisted by Swanny Rose on backing vocals, Toby Marshall on keys, Michael DuBois on drums and Trent Boldt on bass; studio engineer John Wright replaces Trent on one track. The material is all original except for two covers.
The title track blazes out of the traps with Joe paying tribute to his home and delivering some scintillating electric slide as the rhythm section lays down a frenetic beat – a great start! The keys are prominent on a rocking tale of Saturday nights at the local bar where Joe has to resist the lures of a persistent femme fatale, telling her that they have to be “Just Friends”. After two electric rockers it’s time to reach for the dobro on “Mississippi Country Road”, the rhythm section maintaining a fast pace throughout. The instrumental “Jimi Swing” references Hendrix as Joe plays electric guitar with plenty of reverb, a telling tribute.
The first cover is an unusual choice, Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, an opportunity for Swanny Rose to feature on lead vocals. Joe plays both acoustic and electric here but the track does fit oddly with the rest of the album. We get back on track with “Anna Lee”, a fast-paced instrumental with Joe playing some frenetic guitar, and “Mess Around”, a mid-paced vocal tune with a slight country edge.
From here on it’s mainly instrumentals. “Whipping Post” is not the Allmans tune and “Tulsa Time” is not the song associated with Clapton, but respectively a stately acoustic slide tune and an uptempo electric slide piece with distorted vocals, both cuts making you think that this guy must be terrific live.
“Put Your Lovin’ On Me” is a loping blues instrumental and “4th Street Alley” again finds Joe on dobro on a relaxed blues piece. “Café” is classed as a bonus track because it was previously released as a single in 2021, just acoustic guitar accompanied by minimal percussion. We then get Joe’s tribute to SRV in a fine live version of “Lenny”; the atmosphere created here is sustained in “Invictus”, another lovely tune, dedicated to a lost friend.
Joe has skilfully blended styles here, showing that he is a guitar player equally at home plugged in or acoustic. There are plenty of instrumentals to showcase his guitar skills and several attractive vocal rockers, so something for most blues fans to enjoy.