Jason Ricci is this prodigiously talented blues harp player who can really rock it on his instrument. He does these amazing fast passages more reminiscent of one of those metal guitar players than a harmonicist (?). The rest of the band is able and competent, and the whole vibe is very blues oriented. Very typical blues guitar playing, typical eighth-note triplet rythms and a hoarse, raw voice. Ricci has made a conscious attempt to not make Jason Ricci & New Blood sound like one of those bands that are oriented around one member only (think Impellitteri, and Michaelangelo Batio stuff). That said, he can really go into some serious passages. The soloing on “Mellow Down Easy”, for example, is anything but mellow and easy. It’s furious stuff, and guaranteed to relieve the player and the listener of any unseemly constipation. Another cool and notable thing is the harp solo on “Blues Penitentiary”, in which the backing is really quiet, so you can hear Ricci breathe while playing the harp! It has a really cool, slightly off-rhythm effect. The guitar solo is also really nice, with sexy phrasing by Starski, whose tone is distinct in that it that the click of the guitar pick and the sound of string itself is pretty much that same sound. Lovely.
The production and mixing on this music- which doesn’t really warrant too much attention, as it’s the blues– is notable in that its different for the soloists and the rhythm section. The rhythm section is very studio tight. By comparison, guitarist Starski’s guitar sounds very ‘live’, while Ricci’s harp is sounds as if it was recorded separately in a large room, as there is a lot of background ambience audible. Just thought I’d point it out.
Anyway, by “Roll All Day”, I was starting to get bored of the straight up blues-rock; but the band pulled a rabbit out of it’s hat by making “Roll All Day” a funk–blues song (more the former than the latter). It also has a really nice rhythm hook for the soloing sections. These rhythm section hooks are a constant factor that contribute to the listenability of this album more than the soloing. And the straight up bass-drums rhythm section free of any rhythm guitar frippery is one of my favourite sounds in the world.
I now come to an interesting question: between Starski and Ricci, who is the better soloist? Well, my head says Ricci, but my heart says Starski. Great feel, and great hooky leads contribute to him being the better soloist, in my opinion. Hear “The World just Wrong” to get an idea of what I’m saying.
Bah, I don’t quite know how to end it now, except to say that this sounds right.
More Bluesy stuff HERE.