Mark Nomad – All One | Album Review

Mark Nomad – All One    

Blue Star Records

CD: 11 Songs, 43 Minutes

Styles: Acoustic Blues, Harmonica Blues, Live Album, Solo Album

One man. One guitar. One harmonica. One stage. One album, entitled All One.

“Recorded completely live, some place, some time,” reads the back of the CD cover.

All righty, then. What to make of this solo album? It’s not a random offering from your local coffee-shop performer. It’s a release from Mark Nomad, personable and prolific, whose songs have been heard on radio stations all over the world, and in commercials and film. His blues have been tempered by years of living and experience, expressed by the plaintive cry of a bottleneck or the driving funk of his electric band. Here, he relies on his harp and acoustic guitar to carry him through eleven songs – seven originals and four covers (“Mellow Down Easy,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “You Got to Move,” and “My Trouble Blues”).

The good news? All the tunes are pure blues. There’s no funk, no rock and roll, no country, no R&B, no Americana. The less-good news? Despite Nomad’s love of the music and enthusiasm for it, All One lacks energy. Verve. Pizzazz. I understand that not every blues artist is Walter Trout, but yours truly would have appreciated a thundering, hard-driving number in the midst of mellow ones such as “You Took More Than You Gave” (a highlight) and “Green Eyes” (which has a hook you won’t get out of your head for the rest of the day or night). Nomad’s talent is clear, especially on instrumentation, but his vocals are a bit on the muffled side. Maybe that’s the mixing board’s fault, but if your pipes aren’t your strength, all the better to capitalize on guitar.

The Nomad moniker was born in Chicago when he sat in with the Jimmy Johnson Band at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted Street. Nomad began playing the blues in the 1960s, and by the ‘70s, he was sharing the concert stage with many of the biggest names in show business. He was co- founder of the original Little Village. Their debut album is considered a collector’s item and the band was legendary in the Northeast. Nomad penned a jingle for the Subway fast food chain in their early days. Another composition was used as the theme for WBAB, a major New York radio station, for 10 years. Nomad has performed at venues such as the Bottom Line, House of Blues, Bushnell Memorial, Toad’s Place, China Club, Iron Horse, Palace Theater, New Haven Colosseum and scores of colleges and blues festivals.

Make no mistake. All One is a decent effort. However, if you’re looking to party, this CD would serve better as background music at an outdoor barbecue than in your favorite bar’s jukebox.

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