[27 May 2014]
There aren’t a lot of surprises on this record, but Jim Suhler is a guy who believes that if something isn’t broke, it shouldn’t be fixed. Suhler is a fine guitarist of the bend-it-till-it-howls school, and he likes to play his slidin’, twangin, rockin’ form of country-blues-rock the way nature intended, with a minimum of studio gimmickry and external influences. Guitars, vocals, organ, bass and drums are augmented by occasional harmonica and (well okay, this is external all right) accordion, which just serves to dish up a little Cajun spice into the mix. The results are comforting in all the right ways. “Panther Burn” chugs and oozes with a nice degree of sinister oomph, while the chug-a-lug of “Across the Brazos” makes the most of its fingerpicked guitar line and bubbling keyboards. “Between Midnight and Day” offers a frantic surf-style guitar line, while “Sky’s Full of Crows” trots along on a satisfying shuffle beat and vaguely apocalyptic vocals. Downtempo tunes like “All God’s Children Get the Blues Sometimes” add a dash of gospel inflection into the musical gumbo. That said, there isn’t a lot of out-of-the-box thinking here. Whether that’s a good thing is up to the listener. There’s something to be said for doing one thing (or one relatively narrow range of things), and doing it well. If you like raucous guitar blues leavened with a dash of Texas twang, you could do a lot worse than this.