CD: 10 Songs; 42:05 Minutes
Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, Psychedelic Electric Rock
Even in this era of political skepticism, scientific certainty, and “smart” everything (phones, watches, cars, bombs), deep down, many of us want to believe in magic. We know when a magician says, “Pick a card, any card,” we’ll be fooled. The wool will be pulled over our eyes. We’ll be hoodwinked and bamboozled, and what’s more, we’ll love it. We pay to see what we want to see, for that fateful split second when our minds believe the trick is real. Such illusions don’t only happen in crowded auditoriums, on stages with red velvet curtains. Sometimes they occur while listening to music, such as Minnesota’s Joey Flip and Aurora. Their debut Release seems to feature popular covers, such as “Mess Around” and “Whipping Post,” but, abracadabra! Those two are original songs. So are the rest of the ten tracks in this mixed bag of smooth jazz, rudimentary blues, and psychedelic rock. This CD is not for blues purists, but others might find this duo’s musical prestidigitation pleasant. Joey Flip and Aurora certainly give it their all.
Their promotional press material reveals that “Joey Flip” Filipovich is “a former door-to-door vacuum salesman turned full-time blues musician. After running a successful sales career for twelve years, he decided to leave it all and follow his dreams in music…He has performed at the Road to Memphis Blues Challenge, the Fine Line Music Café, and other clubs and festivals across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Aurora [Wahlstrom] brings exceptional talent with a jazz background. Her vocals pack a punch and have been compared to artists such as Aretha Franklin and Etta James.” With credentials like these, they’ve made a good start in the blues. Where they finish, however, might largely depend on genre loyalty. They lack specialization.
Along with Joey Flip on guitar, harmonica, ukulele and lead vocals, are Aurora Wahlstrom on lead vocals, and the members of their backup band: bassist Ben Tapia, harmonica player Rhona Brack, and Paul Hunder (according to their Facebook page).
The following song is the most traditional of the ten selections, and will sound the most familiar:
Track 02: “I Can Tell” – This mid-tempo duet between Joey Flip and Aurora features guitar work that’s as crisp as fresh potato chips, reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The contrast, however, between the crispness of Flip’s vocals versus Aurora’s is rather jarring. “I can tell by the way that you hold me tight. I can tell by the way that you treat me right,” the latter warbles, her background training shining bright. “I’ve been watching you, baby, watching you all night long,” Flip literally says beforehand (elongating the “o” in “long” doesn’t constitute singing). Nevertheless, “I Can Tell” track two is the blues – so says yours truly.
With all that said, remember this Release is like a prestidigitator performing for the first time in front of their professional peers, making a debut. Joey Flip and Aurora may well become master blues magicians, but should make that their primary focus.