Tomislav Goluban – Memphis Light
10 songs, 39 minutes
Memphis, Tennessee stands tall as one of the birthplaces of modern Blues, a hot spot for the transformation of Blues into Soul music as the home to Stax Records and has maintained in the modern day as a hub for Bluesmen/women and musicians of other genres to record, perform and live in the deep history of music in the air. For his 11th studio album Memphis Light, Tomislav Goluban and his band “Little Pigeon” went to the famous Ardent Studios in Memphis to absorb the deep Blues history and current Blues vibrance of this great City.
Tomislav Goluban is a Croatian ace harmonica player and prolific hard working songwriter. His music is unique due to his at times irreverent songwriting and nasally almost spoken word singing style. You either get it or you don’t. Regardless, Goluban’s Blues are undeniable and his European Blues perspective is heartfelt and real. Like many singers/harp blowers, Goluban has assembled a top flight band supporting him. Bill Ruffino on bass and David Green on drums are flexible and adaptive enough to keep pace with Goluban’s various songwriting modes. Jeff Jensen on guitar and Rick Steff on keys create a deep and interconnected melodic web for the music. There are a few guest musicians, most prominent is Memphis singer and fellow harmonica blower, Vince Johnson who takes lead vocals on two songs. Johnson has a powerful vocal delivery and tambor that reminds one of the great fellow Memphis musician B.B. King. Another essential Johnson on this record is Delta Moon’s Mark Johnson who contributes his unique slide guitar stylings to 5 tracks. Background vocals are peppered throughout from Joseph Franher, Reba Russell and Daunielle Hill.
Memphis Light hits multiple traditional and a few contemporary Blues tones. Vince Johnson feature “Fun Starts Here” is a slow 12 bar Blues with amber rich depth and a slow drawing drag. This track is a jewel of a performance. Album opener “Hayloft Blues” is an amped up North Mississippi vamp with rural themes and undertone.”Disappear for Good” has a spooky Southern Gothic haze while the title track is a medium tempo feel good hop. There are a number of more upbeat straight ahead rock and boogie styled pieces that help segue between the deeper more ambient pieces. The only cover of the over worn “House of the Rising Son” falls a little flat simply because there truly is not anything else to add to this poor overused composition.
Tomislav Goluban is a unique and idiosyncratic artist. He works hard and puts all of himself into his performances. His style of writing and singing might not be everyone but that’s the beauty and unifying character of the Blues. Everyone can come as they are and find a community to support them.