JT Lauritsen and the Buckshot Hunters – Blue Eyed Soul Vol. 2
CD: 11 Songs, 41 Minutes
Styles: Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, Ensemble Blues
Listen up, all you cravers of sizzling soul blues. I’m going to let you in on a personal trade secret: When the music’s as good as it is on Blue Eyed Soul Vol. 2, from Norway’s JT Lauritsen and the Buckshot Hunters, the album review writes itself. Ergo, my ego will let my id drive for the rest of this column. Prepare for a surefire winner, because this 11-song CD wins gold medals in energy, tonal and instrumental balance, vocal clarity, and all-around pep. If 2021’s got you down in the dumps even though it’s late summer and the Olympics are on, fear not. Jan Tore (JT) and company will help you over such a hurdle faster than Karsten Warholm can run 400M hurdles! Consisting of nine original songs and two covers (Don Robey’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry” and Monika Nordli’s “I’ll Carry the Key”), it combines grit and good vibes in equal measure.
As any Olympian knows, it’s difficult to top one’s previous efforts. Lauritsen and the Buckshot Hunters’ previous installment, Spellmann-nominated Blue Eyed Soul Volume 1, earned high marks from yours truly in 2018. On Volume 2, the band has delved deeper into their personal and collective soul, finding more rawness and the angst that innately comes with the genre. They’ve been working steadily and have found a more homogeneous soundscape. Børge-Are S. Halvorsen and Jens Petter Antonsen have delivered strong arrangements on all the songs, contributing to a powerful sound. This year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary, and their ninth album is a terrific indicator of their position in the Norwegian blues scene. Ms. Wetnight wishes they were more well-known in the US, but Sirius XM and this magazine aim to fix that.
Alongside J.T. (vocals, accordion, harmonica and Hammond B3 organ) are the rest of the Buckshot Hunters: Arnfinn Tørrisen and Frederick Johannessen on guitars; Jon Grimsby on drums and percussion, and Morten Nordskaug on bass and backing vocals. Special guest stars include Bill Troiani and Hans Cato Kristiansen on vocals; Victor Wainwright on piano; Mike Zito on guitar; Børge-Are S. Halvorsen on baritone and alto sax, and Jens Petter Antonsen on trumpet and trombone.
People get leveled by the doldrums all the time, but as the first song on this CD posits, “Blues Never Feel That Bad.” The musical equivalent of your favorite beer or effervescent beverage, it invites you to soar to the stratosphere. “Hold You One More Time,” a sly shuffle, adds a little lust to the proceedings. Grab a partner and dance while you can, because this one clocks in at an all-too-brief 3:37. The Hunters’ rendition of “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry” might make you weep for joy, and a “Friday Night Ride” is exhilarating, especially when it comes to Victor Wainwright’s flawless piano. Want a sing-along hit? Try “Like You Do,” starring Mike Zito. “I’ll Carry the Key” carries a message of hope to one and all, and “Woman in my Life” a perennial homage to romance. Every song is a podium contender – no falls, misses, or duds.
Have you been waiting for a sequel that might be better than the original? Make like Usain Bolt and get your hands on Blue Eyed Soul Vol. 2 in a hurry!