Saturday, May 13, 2017

Blackfoot Gypsies: “To The Top” (2017) CD Review

Blackfoot Gypsies began as the duo of vocalist and guitarist Matthew Paige and drummer Zack Murphy. After a few CD releases (including a couple of EPs), bass player Dylan Whitlow and harmonica player Ollie Dogg joined them. This band has a great, full sound mixing classic, true rock and roll with some raw country vibes. The other day, when I wanted something energetic and strong, something to help me shake off the growing frustration and irritation with our sad country, I put on the band’s new album, To The Top, and it was precisely what I was looking for, precisely what I needed. And it might be what you’re itching for as well.

The album opens with “I’m So Blue,” coming on like some great old rock and roll, like The Kinks (one of my all-time favorite bands). They sing, “Oh, I’m so blue/Because I don’t have you,” and maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t sound blue. It sounds like a party, and I dig the harmonica. Missing someone and being lonely should always sound this good. Then none of us would have the blues. The party continues with “Everybody’s Watching,” a lively song containing this declaration of love: “Yeah, yeah, a hundred times yeah/I’ll love you ‘til my dying breath.” Man, it is so great to hear some real rock and roll.  It does have an odd, false ending, but soon the drums lead us back to the party. And while dancing to “Promise To Keep,” I decide that I’ve got to see this band in concert. “I dream about my baby and how good she feels.”

Then the band gets into an absolutely delicious country rock number, “Potatoes And Whiskey,” which ends up being one of my favorites. “Now I’m wondering where you are, and I’m sick of being alone/And I’m trying to keep up with your life as I’m staring at my phone.” Those lines made me laugh, but there is something so sad about keeping up to date with someone via posts on social media on a small computer screen. “Potatoes and whiskey are keeping me alive/They’ll never be enough to keep your memory from my mind.” I completely fucking love this song.

Another of my favorites is “Back To New Orleans.” It sounds like a New Orleans parade is approaching us as this song fades in, or like we’re getting closer to the right house, the one with the band, with the folks dancing on the lawn, hanging from the balcony, tossing strings of beads to any wild animals who might pass by. “Night time becomes the morning and you’re still dancing through the French Quarter/Sitting still on an old rooftop, making love with who you got/It’s a voodoo queen with a skinny waist who seems to like the way you taste.” This song sounds so good, particularly with the addition of horn players, and it is getting me itchy to get back to New Orleans. I’ll likely be there later this year, and I’m even more excited about the trip now. And I’m relieved to hear the band sing, “You’ll have the most fun without any money.” “Back To New Orleans” is followed by another fun one, “Lying Through Your Teeth,” which has a bit of a folk rock feel, but is still very lively. Guess which orange-tinted fascist this song’s title makes me think of?

Blackfoot Gypsies then dip more into country and folk with “Velvet Low Down Blues,” featuring fiddle and pedal steel. Yeah, just when I thought this album couldn’t possibly get any better, they give me this wonderful tune. This album is just so goddamn good. “Woman Woman” has a cool country rock feel, reminding me a bit of certain Bob Dylan songs. Then “She Was Mine” has some lines that stand out, such as “You’re looking like I dreamed you and I’m looking like I’m slowly dying” and “Now when you walk away, take your time.” They follow that with “I’ve Got The Blues,” and this time when they tell us they’ve got the blues, I almost believe them. I mean, I’m still smiling, and it still sounds like a whole lot of fun, but the song is undoubtedly the blues – delicious, loose, cool blues, with lots of great work on harmonica.

Of course this album has to have at least one song with a Bo Diddley beat. Really, it was the only thing missing from this excellent album, and so they fill that void with “Gypsy Queen,” which, as you’d expect, is fun. This beat always moves me the right away, whether it’s “Who Do You Love” or “Willie And The Hand Jive” or “I Want Candy” or “Not Fade Away.” “Gypsy Queen” has a loose, raw power. Like I said, this album might be just what you need to shake those U.S. fascist blues for a little while. “Come on, take me just a little bit higher.”

CD Track List
  1. I’m So Blue
  2. Everybody’s Watching
  3. Promise To Keep
  4. Potatoes And Whiskey
  5. I Had A Vision
  6. Back To New Orleans
  7. Lying Through Your Teeth
  8. Velvet Low Down Blues
  9. I Wanna Be Famous
  10. Woman Woman
  11. She Was Mine
  12. I’ve Got The Blues
  13. Can I Get A Warning?
  14. Gypsy Queen
  15. Why Should I Try 

Matthew Paige plays guitar, mandolin, violin and banjo; Dylan Whitlow is on bass and piano; Ollie Dogg is on harmonica; and Zack Murphy plays drums and percussion. Joining them on this release are Spencer Cullum, Jr. on pedal steel, Micah Hulscher on piano, Taylor Powell on drums, Shannon Pollard on drums, Paul Thacker on saxophone, Diego Vasquez on trombone, and Joe Hunter on sousaphone. Margo Price and Alexis Saski provide backing vocals.

To The Top was released on April 14, 2017 on Plowboy Records.

No comments:

Post a Comment