Bluzpik – 2015
10 tracks; 38 minutes
Based on the East coast of Florida, Joel Zoss is an acoustic guitarist and singer who is accompanied here by Jeff Adkins on bass and Matt Calderin on drums. Producer Jeff Harding adds guitar to one track. Eight of the tracks are original with two covers from Big Bill Broonzy and Lead Belly.
Joel has a light voice that at times recalls the late Al Wilson of Canned Heat and on the first track plays some pleasant finger-picked guitar on a sprightly tune entitled “Have You Seen My Rider”. “Papers Of Light” has some nice electric bass parts but a repetitious chorus without words that mars the tune. Joel’s ode to the power of “Vodka And Red Bull” is a straight blues shuffle which sounds like a Jimmy Reed tune as Joel sings of having “a good buzz on”, rather repetitively. The tune seems to stretch Joel’s vocal abilities though there is more good picking here. “The Riddle Song” certainly lives up to its enigmatic name as it is hard to figure out what Joel is singing about here, at times having references to biblical images, knights and chessmen!
“Street Vet Chant” is a blues with some nice guitar work, another strange little song about a veteran who “can’t work with this shrapnel in my brain”. The familiar “Key To The Highway” is played pretty straight with the rhythm section chugging away behind Joel’s acoustic work and Jeff’s solo. “Two Fish” is another song with some odd lyrics that fails to maintain interest.
“Albert’s Song” at over five minutes rather plodded as Joel sings about his life in Florida. The cover of “Goodnight Irene” is very different to the song we all know so well, Joel choosing to play the song with an eastern feel to the guitar parts and a mid-paced rhythm but again fails to deliver a convincing vocal. The final song is “Follow Me I’ll Turn Your Money Green” which repeats the title several times.
Overall this CD has some solid acoustic playing but did not engage this listener.