James Kamp & Joanna Best 2021
Out of North Carolina to twang the blues away, elegantly wild team of breezy spirits warm the weather and take off.
The original singer Virginia left this group ages ago, and it took the Asheville collective seven years of change to deliver their debut album; however, what was retro-styled to begin with could only become tastier as the years go passing by. And if such an approach provided the quintet with an excuse not to reinvent jump blues in a new way, the long gearing up to the release gave the record a lot of vigor. The ensemble’s energy may strategically lapse in places but the platter overall charge seems rather atomic, so though wearing a bikini while listening to “Busman’s Holiday” is optional, finding a partner to take to the dancefloor would be highly recommended.
It’s difficult not to shuffle your feet to the infectiously unhurried opener “Let It Go” where Joanna Best’s vocals shine against Howie Neal’s six-string licks and main writer James Kamp’s sax as the band take turns swinging their hips frontstage; and it’s impossible not to be scared when the harp-oiled swamp ripple of “Push On Through” creeps through your veins, as group play with nervous reserve. Yet if there’s not much swagger in “The Way I Walk” and the calypso of “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” doesn’t feel incendiary enough, the groove that two Johns, Davis and Barrett, ignite on “Sugar Baby” before their rhythm section is cooled by other instruments lets the group fire on all rockabilly cylinders.
This is why the piano-driven hymn “When Will I Find Him” sounds strange on this record that’s otherwise devoid of spirituality, but the Farfisa-colored “I’ll Be Back Again” follows it up with proper panache, which will be enhanced with the “bippity-buppity-bop” scat in “Your Money’s No Good” – the summit of a summer pride – to spread the hot season across the whole year. Heartwarming and sweat-inducing “Busman’s Holiday” should appeal to everyone.