Ronan One Man Band & Marko Balland – Long Way From Home | Album Review

Ronan One Man Band & Marko Balland – Long Way From Home

Self Release

13 songs time-64:14

Blues pared down to the basics via hellhound gruff vocals, gritty guitar beats, harmonica delivered ala John Lee Hooker style, R.L.Burnside-Junior Kimbrough North Mississippi blues style or an amalgamation of the two. Sports fans this is sh*t kicking juke joint blues for the most part. They do slow things down a few times. If you are looking for melodies or ballads, boy did you come to the wrong place. If you want to get shaken to your core, this is the place. Crank it up and fasten your seat belts. Ronan One Man Band is the possessor of one wicked other-worldly blues growl of a voice. He drives the songs with his powerful electric or acoustic guitar antics. Supposedly he provides the percussion with some outside help.

His partner in crime on a great wandering harmonica sound is Marko Balland. Where is this virtual juke joint you may ask? Well, but of course, France. You heard it right. Actually it isn’t that surprising, as many American ex-pat blues musicians have taken France as their second home and to much success.

A version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun”, here titled “Boogie Chilum”, Is a good introduction to the raucous grooves that make up the major part of this project. Ronan’s powerful growl of a voice combined with his hard guitar attack are a force to be reckoned with. Variations of the John Lee Hooker boogie rear their head throughout the recording. Marco Balland’s amplified harmonica is a constant companion, weaving it’s sinewy self in and around the grooves. “Going Down South” bares a close resemblance to R.L. Burnsides’ version. Ronan beats the hell out of his National Steel guitar on “Nothing But The Blues”, the only song with more traditional drums via Stephane Avellaneda.

Mathieu Pesque’ provides banjo on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Poor Boy” to add to the National Steel to enhance the “stringy” front porch feeling. Also the omnipresent harmonica doesn’t hurt one bit. Among the other blues chestnuts covered here are Anna Meyer’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” that she recorded in 1922. Over the years it has been recorded by Billie Holiday, Jimmie Witherspoon and Mississippi John Hurt among others. Blind Willie Johnson’s “In My Time Of Dying” benefits from Hooker boogie injection. Ronan’s feral growl appropriately manifests itself in “Lonesome Wolf”. Marko’s harp really shines here juxtaposed to the National Steel jangle.

File this under slow intensity-“Too Tired”. Yes the growl works on the slow stuff as well. Acoustic slide guitar entangles with the warbling harmonica to cast a spell on the listener. By the end of this I’m deep in the Louisiana swamps. The classic “Walking Blues” receives a slow and deliberate reading to good affect. The Hooker boogie takes things home on the intense “Feeling Bad”.

This record is a great respite from the tamer band driven blues. If this stuff doesn’t kick butt, butt can’t be kicked. What a manic voice paired with driving music. Nothing more to say…Just crank this dude up !!!

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