Johnny Sansone – Into Your Blues
Short Stack Records – 2022
11 tracks; 51 minutes
Johnny Sansone spent the last two years producing this album and it was definitely worth the time invested as Johnny produces a blues album that may well be a contender in those ‘best of the year’ awards. Recorded on home turf in New Orleans, Johnny sings lead and plays harp (plus a little resonator guitar) on an all-original set of songs, one written in collaboration with Wacko Wade. A strong cast of musicians is involved with guitar duties shared between Chicagoan Johnny Burgin and Texan Mike Morgan, Tom Worrell is on piano, Chris Spies on B3, Jeffrey Bridges on bass and John Milham on drums; horns appear on several tracks, Brad Walker on tenor and baritone saxes, Steve Lands on trumpet. Tiffany Pollack adds backing vocals, Michael Sinkus percussion and two fellow New Orleans residents make guest appearances, Jason Ricci and Little Freddie King.
The album opens with the title track, a full band production with the horns right up front in the mix, guitars ringing out and Johnny singing strongly: “This is your game, you make the rules, you just keeping falling deeper, down into your blues”. Johnny’s harp takes center stage as the track fades out, a great start and just makes you want to hear more. Johnny sings sarcastically that he wants the listener to “Pay For This Song” on a Jimmy Reed styled blues that gives him the chance to play some high-pitched harp, very much in JR style.
We then hear Johnny’s soulful side on “Desperation”, warm organ, horns and shimmering guitars providing a gentle groove for him to show us his vocal chops. The longest track on the album, this one provides space for fine guitar and sax solos. Next up is “Blowin’ Fire”, definitely the right title for Jason Ricci to spar with Johnny on both harp and vocals! Little Freddie King then does the same on “Willie’s Juke Joint”, a semi-spoken, back porch affair.
The full band is back for “People Like You And Me”, an uptempo number with piano and both guitarists featured and a strong chorus with Tiffany joining in to support Johnny. The shortest track on the album is “The Getaway”, Johnny’s buzzing harp well supported by guitar and the rhythm section on a sparse production with no keys, horns or backing vocals. Johnny takes us down to the “New Crossroads”, playing both resonator and some deep-toned harp as he tells us that he “don’t need no Devil’s bargains, I never done like I was told”, another stripped-back tune.
There certainly is “Something Good Going On” as the horns return on a swampy blues on which Tiffany’s vocals are to the fore on the choruses, Johnny playing in unison with slide guitar. “Single Room” also has that funky, Southern feel on a song with gloomy lyrics, ominous sounding harp and good ensemble guitar work from Johnny and Mike who both feature strongly on the last track, an instrumental entitled “Southern Dream” which features delicate guitar work from both players to close out the album in tranquil manner.
A strong album from Johnny and his collaborators, well worth hearing.