Stevie J. Blues – Back 2 Blues
Mississippi Delta Records/PK Music
11 songs time-48:11
Using “Blues” as your stage last name, calling your CD “Back 2 Blues” and plastering blues legends all over the cover of your CD doesn’t make you blues musician. Playing the blues does. Stephen Johnson makes music that combines soul, funk, R&B, gospel and a touch of blues. Maybe he should call himself Stevie J. Soul-Funk-R&B-Gospel And A Touch Of Blues. Although touting himself as a Mississippi bluesman, he doesn’t get to the blues until the gospel-blues of “Come See Me”, the fourth song. He doesn’t display any quality blues guitar skills until the final song. Maybe he should of called his CD “I’ll Get Back To The Blues In a Minute”. I have a problem with calling your music something that it largely isn’t. He delivers and produces a fine soul-gospel album that includes his smooth vocals, but blues?…Not so much.
“Lil Mo Love” begins with snippets of negative newscasts as it’s lyrics deliver a message of peace in an upbeat, funky horn drenched fashion highlighted by Stevie’s smooth as silk vocals. The main melody of Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With The Kid” borrowed for “I Ain’t Getting That” that features a thin guitar sound. “Cradle Robber” sounds like classic southern soul and again features some thin sounding guitar. One plus is the piano playing of Andy Hardwick. Finally we get the funky gospel-blues of “Come See Me” with its’ ok slide guitar and harmonica.
“That Party Song” is just what the title implies, a soul-funk exaltation of the party life. “Lights Out” is a slow soul burner. Gospel meets romantic sex on “Good Good”. “What you talkin’ bout, Willis?” You be the judge. Cheating is the subject of the classic soul of “Another Jody Song”. Stevie recounts the story of how a friend gave him an Albert King cassette to learn guitar from. Their is no evidence that it paid off until the last song here, the instrumental “Blue By the Bay” where he finally unleashes some substantial blues guitar skills with dexterity to spare. What was he waiting for?
If you’re looking for a well done soul-funk record with a blues bonus at the end, have I got a CD for you. He can sure produce and sing and write, but I’m not crazy about the idea of semi-false advertising. Well, in my book he saved the best for last.