Rosedale Junction – Stompin’ On The Front Porch
Center Block Records
12 songs – 68 minutes
Stompin’ On The Front Porch is the debut release from Rosedale Junction, a band led by Boston-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Toby Soriero. Its footprint lands squarely in the broader American music scene, mixing blues with country, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. And Soriero demonstrates that he is a deft hand at pretty much everything.
In addition to composing seven of the songs on the album, Soriero also plays guitar, bass, resonator, mandolin, piano, uke bass, drums and percussion as well as contributing backing vocals. Drummer Jim Riley is present on all bar one of the tracks (the Bo Diddley-esque “Bourbon Man”), while a variety of guest musicians add a multitude of different flours to the songs.
Comprising Soriero’s songs, four covers and two alternative takes, Stompin’ On The Front Porch is a highly enjoyable release. The album opens with the grinding blues rock of “Prison Yard Blues” with wonderfully weathered vocals from John Lee Sanders, whose whiskey-soaked voice is gloriously contrasted against Tyra Julliet’s sultry backing vocals. Trent Williamson’s lonesome harmonica weaves nicely around the vocals.
“Brass City Blues” sounds like a ZZ Top boogie if they had horns and Hammond organ, although Dgiovahni Denize’s vocals are closer to George Thorogood than Billy Gibbons. Soriero nicely meshes two guitar leads over the solo section, while Roger Smith’s Hammond organ even gives the song a hint of Deep Purple towards the end.
Indeed, there is an echo throughout the album of bands from the 1970s like Purple, who delighted in making music, rather than letting themselves be pigeon-holed into a single genre. Socerio is equally comfortable on the gospel-style cover of Led Zepellin’s “Baby Come On Home” (with an exhilarating vocal performance from Rachel Gavaletz), the acoustic folk “The Ballad Of The Leatherman French” (with superb weeping violin from Vito Gutilla and a pitch-perfect reading of the tale by Joel Jorgensen on vocals), the country swing of “The Blizzard of ’73” or the bluesy shuffle of “Chasin’ The Devil Blues”. A second version of “The Ballad Of The Leatherman French” is one of the outtakes, but is purely instrumental, enabling Soriero to stretch out on acoustic guitar. The other is an alternative take of “Bourbon Man”, played this time in a heavier blues-rock vein, with Socerio trading guitar licks with Joe Soriero and Jorgensen even adding in one verse from Jimmy Rogers’ “Sloppy Drunk”.
Soriero is a sharp songwriter, often penning narrative tales that engage the listener lyrically. Of the covers, “I’d Rather Go Blind” is perhaps one of those songs that doesn’t need to be covered ever again, but Soriero makes a valiant stab at it, ably assisted by another top vocal performance from Gavaletz. Rodney Crowell’s blues-country “Song For The Life” and Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” are excellent choices, however, and Soriero pulls them both off with panache, replacing the lap steel of Crowell’s original with another glorious violin solo from Gutilla and adding a heavier, rockier edge to “Grandma’s Hands” as well as turning it into a duet between Jorgensen and Julliet.
Soriero produced the album, with engineering by Alex Allinson. Recorded at The Bridge Sound And Stage in Sommerville, MA, The Record Room in Hong Kong “and other remote locations across the globe”, Stompin’ On The Front Porch, has much to enjoy. It isn’t a pure blues album but there is more than enough blues herein for any fan of modern blues, particularly with a rock or country edge to it, to enjoy.