Ron Addison – Testify
10 songs – 34 minutes
Testify is the debut release from Abindon, Virginia, singer, Ron Addison. After a career in the military as a helicopter pilot and then a second career as a Virginia State Trooper, Addison returned to his first love, music, and he and his band, the Tomcats, gig around Southwest Virginia, playing a mix of blues, blues-rock, classic rock and country. Testify however sits very much on the blues-rock side of the equation and is a very impressive first offering.
Featuring nine songs written by Ron Addison and one penned by Martin Addison, Testify is a relatively short album but one on which there is little filler. Addison has assembled a variety of excellent musicians to assist him, including Don Eanes on clavinet, organ and piano, Billy Crawford, DC Wolfe and Victor Lawson on guitars, Martin Addison on bass, Mike Stephenson and John Grayson on drums, Mary Munsey on saxophone, Duane “Catfish” Frye on harmonica, and Charlotte Austin, Renee Mort and Lori Addison on backing vocals. Together, they essay a variety of different blues-rock styles, from the funky blues of “Long Way Down”, which deals with the harsh economic realities of the modern age, to the high octane rock and roll of “Keep Loving Me” and the sax-soaked soul-blues of “No Damn Good”. The trio of Crawford, Wolfe and Lawson lay down a variety of interesting and stylistically different guitar solos, while Munsey, Frye and Eanes also make the most of their solo spots. The ballad “Long Ago Another Time” also features a lovely duet with Samantha Grayson.
Lyrically, Addison addresses the traditional love/lust lyrical themes of many blues songs in tracks such as “Never Gave Up Loving You” but also reaches beyond to address issues such as child abuse in “Crayons In Heaven”. On the title track, he espouses the power of truth in relationships while referencing images of court testimonies and church choirs (memorably emphasized by the massed backing vocals on the chorus).
Addison himself sings with an endearingly worn and weathered voice and a vocal style that contains hints of his country background, at times recalling the great Billy Joe Shaver, especially on the dreamy love song of the closing “Oyster Man”. There is an authenticity and deep emotional connection to his voice that makes it very listenable, and is particularly effective when contrasted with the band’s deliberately slick and smooth approach on tracks such as “Chocolate Cherry Pie”.
Recorded at Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Va, Testify was expertly engineered and mastered by Mike Stephenson and produced by Addison.
Ron Addison may be releasing his debut album in one of the later chapters of his own life, but it is a highly commendable effort that suggests there is plenty more music yet to come from this Virginian. Impressive stuff.