Omar Coleman – Born & Raised | Album Review

omarcolemancdOmar Coleman – Born & Raised

Delmark Records

14 tracks

Omar Coleman’s sophomore release is a nice set of all-original tunes done up in a great Westside manner and shows us that the blues remain alive and well in the Windy City.  Backed by Pete Galanis on guitar, Neal O’Hara on piano and organ, Ari Seder on bass, Marty Binder on drums, and three great guest guitar players, the album is a tight and jumping set of cuts.

“Tryin’ To Do Right” is a nice uptempo Chicago blues with some great guitar solo work by Galanis and harp by Coleman.  It’s a great kickoff to the CD.  “Man Like Me” features Toronzo Cannon on guitar and he comes in for his big distorted solo after a big harp solo by Omar.  Coleman growls and the backline drives a hot beat here.  “Sit Down Baby” funks it up a bit.  O’Hara’s organ and Galanis’ fuzzy tones add to great vocals by Coleman.  He gives a dirty harp solo to add to the mood here.  The tempo drops for “I Was A Fool,” a nice little soulful blues ballad.  Thoughtful performances and restraint are the key here.  One of only two songs to exceed 5 minutes length, Coleman uses the pace and phrasing to fill that time effectively.  Mike Wheeler has an extended one and then he and Coleman trade vocals for licks to close things out.  “Wishing Well” is a tune where Omar talks about eating crow and working two jobs and perhaps even having to get some assistance via a wishing well to get his girl back.  Another set of nice efforts by Wheeler on his solos.

“Slow Down Baby” opens with a dirty harp intro and then Coleman and the band get into a driving boogie woogie.  O’Hara has been solid throughout and here he really nails the piano boogie.  Coleman lays out some decent harp and later David Herrero offers a big solo with some mean echo for effect.  “Lucky Man” is a forthright cut where Coleman tells us how lucky he is in his relationship.  Galanis offers some huge guitar in support and the band builds up into a big finish for Coleman’s last chorus and his harp takes us out.  “I Don’t Want No Trouble” is a mid-tempo blues with a forthright performance by Omar.  He explains to his woman he will give his woman what she wants to keep things cool.  He dirties it up again on harp, continuing to offer a very distinct tone that blends grease and dirt from the West Side of Chicago.  “You Got a Hold on Me” again starts with the harp intro and then Omar shouts out the lead.  Bouncy and rocking stuff in this cut- it’s made for dancing.  Toronzo Cannon solos again in a big way.  “Born and Raised” is a bio song of sorts, blending funk into the mix again as Coleman testifies he needs to make ends meet and the Mayor ain’t helping.  A big harp solo and a driving beat sell this one.  Simple lyrics, yet they are direct and effective and the band pushes this along.  Galanis offers a magnificent solo near the end, too.

Things slow down for “One Request,” another soul ballad.  Coleman explains to his woman how he wants to have and raise a child with her.  He’ll take the lead with a boy and she can do so with a girl, but either way he begs his woman to enter into this partnership.  Galanis nicely solos late in the song again and O’Hara’s piano helps set the emotions here.  It’s the longest cut on the album at almost 6 minutes.  “Tell Me What You Want” goes back to funkiness.  Omar begins with a like spoken suggestion and then breaks into asking his girl what she wants and needs.  Nice harp solo with organ and guitar backing and then the guitar gets to lead with the organ in support.  Dave Herrero is on guitar again here.  “I Know You Been Cheating” is a samba of sorts with Omar telling his woman off.  A big harp solo/lead lets Coleman set the tone.  Galanis comes in later for his solo and then Coleman closes with another nice one.  The set concludes with “Raspberry Wine,” a nice mid-tempo blues with a great guitar and then an organ solo.  The band takes us out on the vocals as Coleman testifies about the wine.

Coleman and company do a very good job here.  The songs don’t drag, the pace is brisk and the musicians are together.  The regular band is great and the addition of Cannon, Wheeler and Herrero add some of Chi-Town’s best blues guitarists to an already great mix.  I liked the album a lot.  The mix is dirty and real, perhaps trying to get an old school sound to the album.  It works.  If you want to hear original Chicago blues done well, then go no further and pick this one up!


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