Lost World Music
14 songs – 61 minutes
Guitarist/vocalist Christopher Dean offers a major change of pace with his third release on the Lost World Music label. He intersperses four originals with an interesting take on Memphis, chittlin’ circuit and Chicago blues classics and also includes acoustic numbers for the first time.
A former member of Big Jack Johnson’s Oilers, with whom he recorded two discs, Dean’s been touring the nation relentlessly since going off on his own after releasing the album “Dogged ‘n Driven” about 14 years ago. He’s joined here by former Oilers bandmate and longtime touring companion Dave Foti on bass, Chip Dixon on drums and backing vocals and Billy Voight on bass.
They’re joined by a host of guest stars, including former Jimmy Johnson keyboard player Carl Snyder on piano and organ as well as Colby Inzer and Ben Diamond (drums), Dan McKinney (keyboards and trumpet), Jim Davis (sax), Nate Myers (harmonica and vocals), Jess Wilkes (flute), and Iman Dixon (backing vocals).
Recorded in Florida and Pennsylvania and dedicated to Johnson and Christopher’s mother, Carol, the disc kicks off with a mellow version of Mel Waiters’ classic “Got My Whiskey.” Dean’s delivery is clean and smooth. The song’s got more of an urban rather than down-and-dirty juke joint appeal, but he definitely gets the message across. His guitar playing, meanwhile, is crisp and restrained.
A cover of David Ruffin’s disco era hit, “On And Off,” penned by Van McCoy, follows before the first original, “Fall Never Came.” It’s a poignant statement about life’s changes delivered atop a steady rhythm pattern and warm guitar line. The mood gets funky as Myers’ harp fuels a version of Muddy Waters’ “Crosseyed Cat” before Dean’s self-penned song of tormented love, “Now I’m Glad.” Dean finally stretches out on the strings as the song comes to an end.
An interesting flute-flavored acoustic cover of “Share Your Love With Me,” a hit for both Bobby Blue Bland and Aretha Franklin, precedes a faithful reinterpretation of the Johnny Rawls pleaser, “Red Cadillac,” before the Dean original, “Woman On Loan.” It’s a fun, uptempo complaint about having no woman at home.
“Hell At the House,” written by emerging deep soul star Omar Cunningham, leads into a treatment of the Willie Dixon classic, “Same Thing,” before the acoustic original, “Believe For Just A Day,” the heartbreaking reminiscence of the end of a love affair, my favorite number in the set. Three more covers conclude the set: acoustic treatments of Lonnie Johnson’s “Get Yourself Together,” Robert Johnson’s “Honeymoon Blues” and Blind Blake’s “Leadhearted Blues,” all delivered with love.
If you’re a hard-core lover of classic Memphis-style deep soul, Dean’s urbane approach to the material might be a little jarring at first listen, but give it a chance. This is a fine album with plenty to offer.