Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Album Review: Rob Stone, Back Around Here
Artist: Rob Stone
Title: Back Around Here
Writer: Rick Galusha
When Rob Stone’s previous album, ‘Just My Luck’ came out it was my album of the year. No, it was probably not “the best” blues album that year but it was so fresh, so unrecognized and so accessible that I was swooned. When I saw that the drought was to be broken, that Stone was releasing, ‘Back Around Again’ my expectations soared.
Stone’s former band mates Chris James (guitar) and Patrick Rynn (bass) a/k/a ‘The C Notes’ join in the recording with appearances by some of Chicago’s finest including; Aaron Moore (piano), Sam Lay (drums) and Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith (drums). Like Stone, Boston native David Maxwell (piano) also plays on the record.
Stone’s sound is pure 1950’s Chicago with flicks of other blues city sounds such as the New Orleans beat on the focus track, “Chicago All Night.” It is on “Chicago All Night” that the album begins to gel as the Stone’s lyrics take the listener through a late night until dawn tour of the Windy City’s noted blues venues, eateries and asundry hang-outs. On the fifth track, “I Need a Money Tree” Stone tiptoes around clichés themes without stepping off the balance beam. Perhaps this is the base draw to Stone’s recordings; that he harkens that lovely blues vibe that most associate with Chicago without being overly reliant on covers or rehashing tired clichés. Albeit an up tempo album, Stone has a vague Harry Connick vocal quality that is boosted that he is cognizant of what he can, and therefore cannot, sing. There is none of the faux-shouter blues growly mish-mash here – just a guy having a great time.
The album falls short, for me, because there are too many tracks. The albums textures are consistent and perhaps I just need a tad more variance in sound: admittedly Stone let’s us know he has no interest in taking the artform beyond the establish 50’s sound. Since his first album provided a fine rendition of the post-war Chicago blues sound, a lack of maturation or perhaps development is apparent.
Radio hosts might look at, ‘Can’t Turn Back the Clock’ for an entry way into the record: David Maxwell rollicks across the keyboards and the song’s form is a pure, easily recognized but tasty blues treat.
Not a “great” album but fun and above average.