Review of The Blues Hawks' latest CD release, Ya Got Me Runnin'

By Kathryn Cole
Retro jazz vocalist and voiceover artist

     2000 RAMI Blues Award winners The Blues Hawks’ new 11-song CD Ya Got Me Runnin’ runs the blues gamut from R&B to psychedelic pop. In fact, every member of the band appears to have been given equal opportunity to contribute material, culminating in a diverse blues experience that somehow manages to tiptoe the fine line between diversity and inconsistency.
     The CD lists the writer of each song next to the song’s title, allowing the listener a unique opportunity to contemplate the revealing glow of musical influence. “Hoodoo Mama,” for example, albeit thoroughly entertaining and creative—I particularly liked the almost subliminal parallel bass vocal harmony—is as steeped in echoes of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through The Jungle” and The Eagle’s “Witchy Woman” as it is in reverb and Leslie speakers.
     There are several noteworthy songs on this CD. Favorites include “John’s Blues,” a psychedelic, ’60s pop-inflected slow romp, the earthy, laid-back duet “If That Ain’t The Blues” and “Where You Belong,” a catchy, sentimental blues ballad which could have come right off Bruce Springsteen’s set list.
     The musicianship is, for the most part, excellent. Guitarist Tim Roe, who has worked with Cheap Trick and even played in their 25th anniversary Davis Park concert last year, never fails to captivate, as does the soulful metal harp of another Cheap Trick compatriot, Dave Hanson. Bass, keyboard and drums are solid, though the overall mix could use more rhythmic energy and pop.
     Cuts like “Ya Got Me Runnin’,” whose lyrics and vocal intensity beg for a driving feel, seem oddly sedated. There are also a few less-than-confident vocal performances. All the reverb in the world can’t disguise a precarious hold of intended notes. Nevertheless, Ya Got Me Runnin’ is an engaging musical experience I would recommend to any blues/rock fan.

     The Blues Hawks are Dave Hanson, harp and vocals; Tim Roe, guitar and vocals; Jeff Lemmons, bass and vocals; Mike Lindstrom, drums; and E.J. Pagel, keyboards and vocals.

 

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