Malcolm Wells and the Two-Timers – Hollerin’ Out Loud
Self-Produced – 2021
11 tracks; 51 minutes
It might not be expected that Des Moines, Iowa would be a destination to hear excellent blues, but it turns out that Malcolm Wells & the Two-Timers have joined the good company of Kevin Burt and Scot Sutherland and are based out of that midwestern town. For his debut album, Hollerin’ Out Loud, Malcolm Wells is joined by three extremely skilled musicians who all have had successful solo careers. Guitarist Matt Woods has his own band, has represented Central Iowa at the International Blues Challenge, has been nominated for Blues Blast Awards, and has twice made the finals in the Blues Foundation’s award for best self-produced CD. Drummer Dwight Dario has toured Europe many times, received several awards and was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. And bassist Patrick Recob was a Blues Blast nominee and has played with numerous heavy hitters, including Smokin’ Joe Kubec, Steve Gerard’s National Debonaires, and James Harman, who later produced Recob’s solo release. The immense talent of this ensemble is not wasted on this album, which contains tasteful arrangements and has a clean, uncluttered sound mix.
Hollerin’ Out Loud contains eleven original tracks written and arranged by Wells, who is a master harmonica player and has a beautiful, soulful voice. It begins with some hard driving blues in “Call My Name”, followed by a partly spoken-word song with a retro guitar sound and a groove that sounds somewhat similar to Slim Harpo’s “Baby Scratch My Back”.
Wells also proves that he is an excellent songwriter, and although they are originals, they somehow seem comfortable and familiar. His lyrics are extremely clever and often sarcastic. For example, in “Divorce Decree”, he states “They should deny you parole for the things you’ve done to me. I’ll be happy as a man can be when that district court judge signs our divorce decree.” Women are likely to become extremely self-conscious listening to the sarcastic lyrics of “Muffin Top” which pokes fun at those who try to squeeze into clothing which is too tight. “It looks like someone started pouring and no one said stop. It just spilled right out over your pants top…I’m staring, and I just can’t stop—crazy about that hot pants muffin top.” And, in “Gentlemen’s Bet” he encounters someone dating his ex-girlfriend and predicts an unhappy end for the man, stating “I bet I can see your future. It’s so plain to see…just like Miss Cleo on TV…Nostradamus ain’t got nothing on me.” Despite the sarcastic lyrics, this is a beautiful slow blues song with a wonderful guitar solo. In fact, all the solos on this album are somewhat understated yet remarkable.
There is no real flaw in this album, and even though debut albums usually contain one or two cover songs, listeners will be unlikely to wish there had been one, as there are no “throwaway” tracks. Fans of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rick Estrin, and The Nighthawks are bound to become fans of Malcolm Wells and the Two-Timers and will soon be lobbying for them to expand their tour outside of the Midwest.