Johnny Cox – Thin Blue Line | Album Review

johnnycoxcdJohnny Cox – Thin Blue Line

Self-Release – 2013

11 tracks; 43 minutes

Born in Scotland, singer and guitarist Johnny Cox is now based in Canada where this debut CD of all original material was recorded. The album was produced and recorded by Johnny with drummer Rich Greenspoon. Bass is played by Ian De Souza with Jerome Tucker, Malcolm McCuaig and Kenny Neal Jr each subbing on one track. Keyboards are added by Marty Sammon on two tracks, harp by Ansgar Schoer on three and by Robbie Bellmore on two, sax by Neil Braithwaite on one. Shelley Zubot is on backing vocals, assisted by Brad Roth on two cuts.

Johnny’s vocals are clear but a little monotone on material that is generally in a blues-rock style. Opening track “Your Love” is rather atypical of the album, being a gentle, soulful tribute to Johnny’s love interest. The frenetic pace of a track like “New Way” eventually ends up in a dead-end of clashing sounds from harp and guitar while “Runaway Train” leans too heavily on the wah-wah for this reviewer’s tastes. On the upside “High Price To Pay” is a strong song with a good hook, harmonies and a fine guitar solo and “Something For Me” (a co-write with girlfriend Danielle Di Vicenzo) moves along nicely with Marty Sammon’s electric piano a strong feature alongside Johnny’s searing guitar riffs. The title track displays a change of pace with acoustic slide guitar and some nice harp embellishments from Robbie Bellmore who also plays on “My Destination” on which his harp and the sax make for a fuller sound over which Johnny plays some nice guitar. “I’m Fine” returns to full electric mode with some not very pleasant distortion on the guitar but “All These Tears” makes a new departure with a lilting reggae beat and Shelley’s b/v’s to the fore, Ansgar’s chromatic harp helping to flesh out the sound. “Long Day” slows the pace for a brooding blues on which Johnny’s weary voice suits the downbeat nature of the song and his double tracked guitar dialogue in the middle works well. The disc closes with “Didn’t Commit The Crime” with more discordant guitar and a rhythm that never seems to get out of first gear.

Overall this is a mixed-bag of material with a few highlights to set against some over-the-top guitar effects on some tracks.

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