Lyle Odjick and the Northern Steam – Through the Rain | Album Review

Lyle Odjick and the Northern Steam – Through the Rain


CD: 10 Songs, 42 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Harmonica Blues, Ensemble Blues

When an airline, blues band, car, medicine, restaurant, or vacation destination promotes a key feature right off the bat, they’d better deliver. On their homepage, Canada’s Lyle Odjick and the Northern Steam promise “High Energy Blues and Blues Rock” – especially on their new album Through the Rain. Unlike most of the advertising world, this ensemble’s not just blowing smoke. Let’s say you’re in a huge hurry to get to an appointment and only have two minutes to unwind in your vehicle of choice. Within the first ten seconds of “Misery Train,” Odjick and company will have you hooked. Punctuated by pounding stomps and grunts of exertion, this song proves that a trip on its titular freight is no smooth ride. (Why is it that the whistle of a ‘Downbound Train’ always sounds the most haunting and beautiful?) You’ll find yourself chugging along to the dentist’s or doctor’s office – prepared for whatever fresh hell awaits you.

Too heavy? I thought so. To get your mood back up, savor the traditional Chicago rhythm of “Cut Me Loose,” the SRV-style riffs of “Leaving Trunk” (a cover of a hit by Sleepy John Estes), and further on, you’ll pay the “Devil Man’s Dues.” If you love harmonica blues, this album is right up your alley. If you favor robust, seasoned vocals, be warned: Odjick is young and handsome, a bona-fide Millennial or perhaps Gen Z, and he sings like a college bro. The inviting instrumentation more than makes up for this slight flaw. Take the slow burner “I Wanna Hold You.” The intro belongs in a high-end nightclub, or even a Netflix movie about one. The CD’s best track is “Harpin’ and Blowin,’” a blink-and-you-miss-it instrumental that prompts you to grab a partner and start swing dancing. You’ll work off all the calories from cocktails that way!

Performing along with Lyle (lead vocals, harmonica, and rhythm guitar) are Ben Griggs on lead and rhythm guitar, Fred Sebastian on drums, Mike Turemne on bass, Sean McGee on keys and organ, guests lead guitarists Tony D and Jason Fryer, and Tanya Paulin on vox for track ten.

Originating from the Algonquin reservation of Kitigan Zibi, QC, now based in Ottawa, ON, Lyle Odjick went from living in a small town with very little exposure to blues or live music to teaching himself harmonica and starting his own blues band.

After playing one gig with a borrowed house band he knew he needed to scout out some local blues musicians on the Ottawa scene to form his own blues band. Less than a month later, The Northern Steam was born. With a burning desire to play onstage, Odjick went from strumming in a small town to opening for heavy hitting acts such as Colin James, Randy Bachman, Monkeyjunk, Paul Reddick and more.

A few recent festival appearances include RBC Ottawa Bluesfest (x2), Calabogie Blues & Ribfest (x2), Mont Tremblant International Bluesfest, Junofest and Ottawa’s Westfest.

In the mood for harmonica blues? Let this Canadian crew guide you Through the Rain!

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