Sean Chambers – Trouble & Whiskey | Album Review

Sean Chambers – Trouble & Whiskey

American Showplace Music

CD: 10 Songs, 44:14 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Make no mistake: Florida’s Sean Chambers is, first and foremost, a rocker. Although he had a five-year tenure (1998-2003) as guitarist and bandleader for Hubert Sumlin, no one would take him for the next B.B. King or Buddy Guy. Columnist Jerry Shriver from USA Today agrees, as quoted on Sean’s website: “Guitarist Chambers achieves the distinctly American blues/soul/country/rock sound that the Stones used to aspire to long ago.” Many purists wouldn’t consider Mick Jagger and company to be blues artists, so being compared to them wouldn’t endear our current guitar champion to such critics. Nevertheless, he’s a dynamite performer, both live and in the studio. The cover art of his newest CD features Sean “in the zone” – sweaty bangs plastered to his forehead, a grimace of concentration on his face, and fingers curling around his shredder strings to squeeze magic from them. No two-bit newbie is this maverick. A musician’s life is as strenuous as mountain climbing, but there’s nothing he’d rather do, and listeners can hear it in every single note he plays. On seven original tracks and three covers, Chambers explores timeless themes that would give anyone the blues: namely Trouble & Whiskey.

Sean’s webpage reveals background details of this latest release: “The album is produced by Ben Elliott, who has recorded classic artists such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons and Leslie West, among others. The core band on the album, aside from Sean on lead vocals and lead guitar, includes Michael Hensley on Hammond B3 & keyboards, Todd Cook on bass and Kris Schnebelen on drums. Special guests include Jimmy Bennett on guitar on track #8, John Ginty on Hammond B3 on track #4, and Andrei Koribaniks on percussion on tracks #1 and #7.”

Overall, this is a rock-the-place, in-your-face, drink-a-beer-in-any-case electric extravaganza. Need I say more? No, but I will, because there are three original songs I wish to highlight.

Track 02: “Bottle Keeps Starin’ at Me” – In psychology, there’s a technique called “projection,” a defense mechanism where people attribute their unpleasant feelings and worries to a source other than themselves. That’s what our narrator does on this savory stomp: “I’m sitting in my kitchen now. That bottle keeps staring at me. Even though I shut the cabinet door, bottle won’t let me be.” Addiction saps the will of its victims, siphoning power from them to their object of consumption. Speaking of which, listeners will get addicted to all Sean’s wicked guitar riffs.

Track 03: “Trouble & Whiskey” – Time for a mid-tempo burner. “Trouble and whiskey, baby, was all I ever used to know,” Sean sings in a voice startlingly reminiscent of the late Sean Costello. “But after you came along, all that trouble walked out the door.” Dancers, fetch a partner, because track three is surprisingly romantic. Even though Michael Hensley’s Hammond is understated here, in comparison to Sean’s guitar, it’s still beautiful in its melancholy harmony.

Track 10: “Gonna Groove” – Every blues CD needs a great opener and a great closer. “Gonna Groove” delivers with aplomb in the latter case. Combining ‘70s funk with 2010’s flair, this number’s another ode to love, with a catchy refrain: “‘Cause our love is strong, to help you carry on, we’re gonna groove.” If this shows up in a major motion picture sometime soon, I won’t be surprised. More likely, B.B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius XM should give it extensive airplay.

Trouble and Whiskey make for a crisp and catchy combo in Sean Chambers’ latest!

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