Kyle Yardley – St Louis To Savannah
Self-Release – 2020
10 tracks; 49 minutes
Over recent weeks I have reviewed several albums on the Blue Lotus label out of St Louis and, although this disc has been released independently, it was recorded at the same studio and features the Blue Lotus chief Paul Niehaus IV on bass, alongside a crew of local musicians: drummer Rob Lee (probably best known for his work with Mike Zito in The Wheel), guitarists Aaron Griffin and Andrew Bochantin with Kyle handling all vocals and harmonica, as well as writing all the material. Kyle lives in Savannah, GA but is originally from St Louis, hence the album title. The music is straight down the line Chicago blues with just one detour and it’s a solid effort.
Kyle’s harp opens “She Left Me”, a classic Chi-Town shuffle reminiscent of the great days of Chess and Cobra. As Kyle starts to sing we get to appreciate his no-nonsense singing style as he recounts a classic tale of the girl who left him for another guy (“if the girl ain’t in Savannah Georgia she must be in Tennessee”) as well as plenty of great harp work. Indeed, the whole band is just so solid with ringing guitar over driving drums, a good start. “I Love You” has a touch of Junior Wells in the rhythms before Kyle stretches out on the longest cut “Country Girl” which runs to nearly eight minutes, the slower-paced tune leaving plenty of room for guitar and harp features – check out Kyle’s great, shimmering introduction to his solo at around five minutes in. A change of pace comes with “That Ain’t Right” as the rhythm section pushes things along on a classic Jimmy Reed-style riff with an excellent vocal from Kyle.
Then it’s guest time as another St Louis musician Brother Jefferson (see review of his latest album in the May 7 issue) shares the vocals on the upbeat shuffle “Going To St Louis” in which Kyle celebrates coming back to his native town and BJ enjoys meeting Kyle there to share their love of the blues. (Rockin’) Johnny Burgin is not from St Louis but turns up on “Little Girl” where he adds his Westside Chicago style with some well-crafted licks alongside a second guitarist on rhythm work on the classic blues theme of Kyle being badly treated by his girl.
“Half Past Six” is a tougher-sounding shuffle with Kyle blowing hard before the energetic “Savannah Georgia Women” which rattles along at a frantic pace as Kyle describes some of the attractions of his adopted city. The only real detour from Chicago blues comes with the instrumental “Island Breeze” which, as the title suggests, brings a touch of Caribbean flavor with a lilting rhythm over which Kyle plays splendidly. To close the album Kyle reprises “Country Girl” in an alternate, faster-paced and tougher version that runs to just over half the length of the first version. There is also some very good interplay between the two guitarists on this one.
Anyone who enjoys electric Chicago blues will like this album which is original but very much in line with the traditions.