Monday, August 8, 2011

Cascade Blues Association Reviews "Lit Up!"

Do you love blues and you want a CD that is going to satisfy your tastes in a variety of styles? Well let’s just say that your expectations will probably be met with this new recording from Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots. For Victor’s fourth release, he has explored several options and approaches; and they all work very nicely here, giving good reason to verify the thoughts of many who consider Wainwright to be one of the most promising young performers out there today.

A former Floridian now calling Memphis his home, Wainwright is a ferocious pianist with a voice that easily rises above a full band. He can boogie the house down or lead the pack in a Louis Jordan-inspired number with horns, or raise the hairs on your neck with a low-down blues. His versatility cannot be overlooked.

Fourteen tracks, all of them originals, most written by Wainwright, his bass player Stephen Dees, or a combination of the two. The song “Coin Operated Woman” was co-written with Wainwright’s longtime guitarist Greg Gumpel, and even old friend Billy C. Wirtz adds a hand in the writing of the song “Honky Tonk Heaven.” And I have to add that not a number on this disc lets down the musical quality and flow at any time; they’re all really terrific and performed by The Wildroots with outright perfection.

There is a lot to really like here. The song “Weeds” comes across as a Tom Waits number; “Little Ole’ Shack” has a Louis Jordan feel; “Big Dog’s Runnin’ This Town” is pure and simply a boogie piece that kicks a lot of fun and will have toes tappin’ in no time. “Dixie Highway” is an acoustic song that finds Gumpel on a resonator guitar and droning harmonica from guest Mark “Muddyharp” Hodgson; and it contains a gentle Delta flavored pace. The piano and horn interplay on “Subliminal Criminal” may sound a lot like something you’d hear from Dr. John, then act like a big band in the slow-churning “Walk Away My Blues” while Wainwright tickles the keys. But as much as they may remind you of others, this is all Victor Wainwright and his presence will hook you as well. Just give it a listen and pretty soon you’ll discover that you’ve stepped into a big pile of blues. You will be pleasantly thrilled with this one.

Total Time: 53:18

Big Dog’s Runnin’ This Town / Ting Tang Bang / Subliminal Criminal / Walk Away My Blues / Dixie Highway / Weeds / Little Ole’ Shack / Lit Up! / Our Last Goodbye / Don’t Doubt It ‘ce est bon’ / Coin Operated Woman / Pile Of Blues / Honky Tonk Heaven / Let It Be The Same

Reviewed by Greg Johnson

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