Matteo Sansonetto Blues Revue – I’m Still Around
Wind Chill Records WC1005
10 songs – 42 minutes
Based out of northeastern Italy, vocalist/guitarist Matteo Sansonetto celebrates his return to action after a major automobile accident with this stellar collection of modern Chicago blues, which was recorded with a lineup of some of the best musicians the city has to offer.
A serious, dedicated student of the Chicago sound, Sansonetto has been crisscrossing the Atlantic in pursuit of his passion for the better part of the past decade. And he appeared to be on the cusp of stardom with the release of My Life Began to Change, an album that received positive reviews around the globe – so much so, in fact, that Britain’s prestigious Blues Matters magazine described him as “definitely one of the brightest lights of the Italian blues scene.”
After breaking both hands in a wreck, he was sidelined for the better part of a year before picking up his ax again and resuming a career in which he was already working steadily and headlining festivals across Europe as well as appearing with Italian-born, Chicago-based compatriot Breezy Rodio at several of the top clubs in the city.
This is Matteo’s fourth CD, and like the past three, was recorded in the Windy City with backing and guest appearances from several of the brightest lights the blues world has to offer.
Produced by Rodio and captured at Rax Trax Studio after rehearsal and pre-production at Delmark, I’m Still Around features ageless wonder Jimmy Johnson on vocals for one cut and Dave Specter on guitar for another backed by keyboard wizard Roosevelt Purifoy, bassist Brian Burke, percussionist Marty Binder. They’re assisted by Ian Letts on tenor sax, Constantine Alexander on trumpet and Jen Williams on backing vocals.
Sansonetto is in full charge throughout, consistently delivering stinging guitar runs free of excess pyrotechnics and singing in a warm tenor with only the slightest hint of his Italian upbringing, as he lays down five originals – four of his own and one from Breezy — and successfully reworks five familiar covers in a manner that truly makes them fresh.
A silky smooth take on Johnnie Taylor’s familiar “Last Two Dollars” remains firmly anchored in soul, but takes on a harder edge with the rhythm higher in the mix before Specter handles lead for “Talking About Chicago,” a medium-slow shuffle in which Matteo pays tribute to Buddy Guy and the city that’s become his home away from home.
Tyrone Davis’ “Are You Serious” is up next, delivered at a slightly faster tempo than the original, but still imbued with passion throughout and includes a rock-solid solo from Sansonetto, too. Purifoy comes to the fore on the title cut, “I’m Still Around,” a bittersweet memory of the singer’s struggle to recover after his doctor told him he couldn’t play guitar after his brush with death.
“Tell Me That You Want Me Too,” an unhurried love ballad penned by Rodio and featuring Williams, continues the sound of South Side Chicago soul-blues forward before Johnson’s at the mike for a take on “Still Called the Blues,” once a mainstay for both Taylor and B.B. King. At age 91, he’s never sounded more powerful.
Two more solid originals — “Everything’s Allright (with My Baby)” and “Don’t Call Me in the Morning” – follow before Earl Thomas’ “Just Another Day in the Life” and “(If Lovin’ You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” — a hit for both the Emotions and Luther Ingram – bring the set to a close.
Available through Amazon, and definitely worth a listen!