Guitarist Jimmy Thackery wrote a good portion of his latest album with the help of his wife Sally. “Pure and simple, I think this is my best work,” he says in the liner notes. But what makes this album slightly different than his other albums is that he allowed each song to be flushed out entirely, not cutting any corners for the sake of being conservative or sticking to a formula. Living in Arkansas, the blues is still present, but it comes off more as an Americana, John Hiatt-type of blues. This is especially evident during the opener, “Got It Going On”. Although Thackery leads most of this song with his guitar, equally important is Ken Faltinson’s bass and Mark Stutso’s drumming. It resembles George Thorogood and the Destroyers as senior citizens, which isn’t to detract from the quality of the song.
“Blues Man on Saturday Night” is more of a traditional mid-tempo to slow tempo blues structure, with Jimmy Carpenter’s saxophones accentuating at the right time, every time. You can also hear that Thackery has lived through most of these songs, which is why most of them pass the bar. The guitar solos aren’t going to blow you away, but the overall effect is above average. “I’m going to a juke joint / Where I wanna be”, he sings as if he’s preaching to the converted. The solos conclude a good portion of this song, but not at the song’s quality. “Baby’s Got the Blues” is a very slow building tune that thankfully never gets into a bigger or larger sound. Reba Russell lends backing vocals and makes this a trip down memory lane. Comparisons to current Clapton blues songs could be made with this number. One surprise is “I Think I Hear the Rain,” a slight pop-blues track that has all the characteristics of a Robert Cray song. How it holds up over nearly six minutes is another story, with the middle portion sadly sagging as Thackery shifts down much too much.
Thackery enjoys moving from one area to another throughout this album. “Snakes in My Mailbox” has that ‘40s big band feeling to it while still reeking of blues. But this song also doesn’t have much oomph to it, too often plodding along at a snail’s pace. There are decent guitar solos here, but not enough to warrant the song’s length. More rootsy and murky is the toe-tapping “Dancin’ with the Dawg”, a tune that has little percussion but really doesn’t need it. With one guitar dubbed over the other, the louder electric solo is buried below the subtler, more refined solo. A dog is also barking once or twice in case you forgot the song title. “Being Alone” is another fine song with a good hook, although Thackery opens up with more talk about dogs. The Drivers, his supporting cast, show their goods here without stealing Thackery’s thunder.
A cover of Buddy Johnson’s “Crazy ‘Bout a Saxophone” is a jumping and swinging blues track that has a slight ‘40s-era thread in it. It also allows Jimmy Carpenter to take the proverbial ball and run with it for more than five minutes. Thackery complements as well, though on the latter half of the song. A finale takes place with a cover of Roy Buchanan’s “The Messiah Will Come”. This nine-minute track begins with a blues meets prog rock style in the vein of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. Thackery mixes a great amount of passion with precision here as Ken Faltinson is all over his B-3 organ. It seems an odd conclusion, but the song is a very good if somewhat dreamy blues track. Overall, fans either with the blues or about to get them will find some solace in these songs.