Booga Music 2021
Tel Aviv guitarist cuts a filigree on blues scene to claim a stake to the Windy City’s spirit.
Israel may not ring a lot of bells for a blues aficionado, yet Andy Watts has been sweeping local and international stages with his weeping six strings lately, and this album allows the master to carry on with much more swagger than ever before. It’s a well-rounded, perfectly balanced record which kicks off with the title track, a Watts original, and signs off with his reading of Peter Green’s classic “Supernatural” – both effervescent, if in a different way: the former a punchy, brass-smeared shuffle and the latter a reflective piece given a tender twang and a reeds-led uplift – that emphasize the extremes of Andy’s approach to performance.
Still, while these come across as rather serious attempts to impress the listener, Rick Estrin’s spectral harp and Roy Young’s melodious croak remove the grime from the walking groove of “Living Hand To Mouth” and sweeten the solemn flow of “Don’t Take My Blues Away” to make the two Chicago-styled numbers shine and show piano ripples, whereas the Gadi Altman-voiced “Raw” rides a sharp rock ‘n’ roll riff – as catchy as a New Orleans dirt. Much softer, “Straight Shooting Woman” shimmers with organ and “Don’t You Let Me Down” fleshes out the Diddley beat with a big band jive, but their singalong choruses, directed by Danny Shoshan’s vocals, are instantly memorable and Watts’ fluid solos build momentum on them with muscular finesse.
Yet it’s the smoldering “Burning Deep” and “Blues Of The Month Club” which see Joe Louis Walker and Eliza Neals at the microphone that bring out the best in Andy’s nuanced dynamics, and when the guitarist dives into Freddie King’s “Pack It Up” – not the easiest Cannonball piece – his reserved vigor is quite staggering. Here’s the reason why all those stages need to be bolstered once Watts is to saunter out there.