Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Indigenous revive career with 'Broken Lands'


While rock music is awash with bands comprised of siblings the South Dakota band Indigenous cut a swath in the bluesrock genre for ethnic bands like Los Lonely Boys and the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. During the past decade Indigenous has struggled to live up to its initial promise; struggling to find a voice since the ’98 release of, ‘Things We Do.’ In the succeeding ten years, through three subsequent albums and two CD-EPs, Mato Nanji, the sole remaining founding member, has parted company with his siblings, changed management and allowed his promising career to nearly fall apart. The fans disappointment has been palatable. With the August release of ‘Broken Lands’ the promise sensed on their 1995 release, ‘Awake’ has been fulfilled.

As the son of noted Indian Rights pioneer Greg Zephier, Mato Nanji has been silent on this legacy…until now. When Zephier died of natural causes in 1999 Jackson Browne played at the memorial Indigenous Jam concert. Zephier honored his son by giving him the native name of America’s first Civic Rights leader Standing Bear. Greg raised his son to be sober, principled and to admire the music of Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Albert King and eventually Stevie Ray Vaughan. All are lessons Nanji took to heart.

The band’s previous album, ‘Chasing the Sun’ dealt with the trauma of breaking up a band comprised of family members. The release of his latest effort, Broken Lands, shows Nanji using the Draconian nightmare of growing up on an impoverished reservation, being invisible to most Americans, to sing the blues…the real blues. On the song, ‘Place I Know’ Mato remembers a community raped by alcoholism and drug abuse when he sings, “I hear a baby crying in the night, with no mother in sight. Walking down the street with no shoes on their feet…You take all you can, in this place I know.” For this writer, contemporary blues have never been more real; more apparent or more genuine. The subsequent instrumental break shows the “ancient art” of guitar weaving between Nanji and the band’s other guitarist Kris Lager that is captivating and panoramic..

On ‘All I Want to See” the band brings back the textures of a prominent acoustic guitar so righteously used on the title track of their ’98 radio embraced album, ‘Things We Do.’ By the seventh track of ‘Broken Lands’ the band has downshifted into the albums most radio friendly track, ‘Just Can’t Hide’ where the band uses crisp melody lines against (more!) cowbell to accelerate the album’s energy a notch above the normative. Gone are the atonal groove tracks of previous records and back are melody lines intertwined with blues textures and subtle but biting lyric lines.

Guitar hackers will relish at the interplay between Nanji and Lager but it is organist Jeremiah Weir’s background playing that seems to push and prod the album with gentle textures and polite nods ala’ the Allman Brothers or The Derek Trucks Band. John Fairchild on drums and A.C. Wright on bass round-out Nanji’s touring band that is road tight and solid on a foundation that was born on the windswept high plains of Nebraska. There are six radio friendly tracks on this album including the jumping, ‘Make a Change,’ a Black Crowes style, “It’s Alright With Me” and the Hendrix textured, ‘Should I Stay.” Not to be confused with an Eric Clapton track of the same name, ‘Let It Rain’ simmers into a full blown rock tune that is comfortable – drawing the listener into the album. Nanji repeatedly leans into the wind with guitar solos that build the song and ends soon enough.

On ‘Eyes of a Child’ Nanji contrasts his childhood to those of his own children when he sings of his home life with wife, co-writer and vocalist Leah Nanji when he says,“You taught me what I need to know. Living with no envy and loving all around, Finding your voice with each little sound. Gaining strength from the arms that embrace you; Never worry about the troubles that may face you. Teaching others life is a gift. With every smile you will get your wish.”

Fans have waiting a long time to hear this album. As with any band there have been disappointments. To those of us that have trudged out to see the band over the past ten difficult years – ‘Broken Lands’ is a masterpiece. Nanji has stepped up with an album of songs that will bind fans back to a band that has finally found its voice…a voice with a message that matters.

Perhaps Nanji is speaking to listeners when he sings, “Still remember all the things we had together…Can you hear me calling you. Can you feel me missing you? I know I was lost before…now you’re all I’m looking for” from the album’s track, ‘Still Remember.’ Broken Lands comes out August 19th on Vanguard Records.