Sadness and exhilaration from the heart of Quebecois who refused to bow down to lockdown.
Since recently, there’s no better way to date your album or outline the circumstances of its creation than to put something referring to Covid-19 in its title – and there’s also no better way to fill it with creative air than to add the name of a certain chosen genre to this title. After all, the blues and solitude always complement each other, no matter how many comrades are supposed to be there to console and support a performer, yet then remote recording has become popular long before the latest pandemic turned such approach into necessity. Not that the distance between players affected Mike Goudreau’s collective in any perceptible way, as their vigor on offer here is effervescent and infectious, as befits a platter which should mark the 30th anniversary of the Canadian’s presence on the scene.
It’s impossible to resist the invitation to join him on this journey as, from the first handclaps-helped licks of Dany Roy’s brass and delicate shuffle of Jean-François Bégin’s drums, “Let’s Go Down To The River” leaves the listener’s feet no choice but to tap to the big band sound of the little ensemble even before Goudreau starts to sing and his six strings drive rockabilly into jazz, and when Mike picks up bass to propel “Speak To Me Softly” towards Elmore-vs-B.B. territory, there’s no doubting the artist’s ability to move the hardest of hearts. With harmonica smeared all over the album’s titular track, whose twang is delicious, to make it rather menacing, and with piano taking “The Mooch” to the barrelhouse, where “Tonight’s The Night For Big Fun” must call for of a bout of jitterbug, the record will begin to ooze timelessness – and all the carbon-dating will get thrown out the window like a rowdy drunkard.
Still, the unhurried “Count On Me” has proper symptoms of quarantine-related sorrow in its pellucid ripples, while the punchy “Half A Day From Home” that’s given deliberately strident vocals and quite a sharp riff, perfectly channels fatigue and yearning, with the organ-oiled, funkified ballad “My Only Lady” and the rumbling “I Got A Good Feeling” sounding as sweet emotional prizes. Contrasting these with bitter bites are arresting tearjerker “Since My Baby Left Me” and the roaring “I’m Still Cryin'” that bring the album to an almost orgasmic close. To get there after the lockdown is most wonderful.