Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Mojo Roots – What Kind of Fool Album Review


This CD review was originally published in the May 9, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

The Mojo Roots – What Kind of Fool

Self Release

11 tracks / 48:48

I made it a point to catch some blues shows when I was in Missouri last month, and I have to say that every time I go to a bar there to check out a band I never come away disappointed. Somehow over the past few years I have missed The Mojo Roots, but after listening to their new CD, What Kind of Fool, I will have to make a better effort to find one of their gigs the next time I am in the area.

The Mojo Roots are based out of the Show Me State, and the band is made up of Jordan Thomas on vocals, harmonica and guitar, Trevor Judkins on lead and slide guitar, Jim Rush on bass, and Andy Naugle on drums. Thomas also produced this album, and this sophomore effort includes six original cuts and five cover songs from the likes of Albert King, Otis Redding and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

The first thing that struck me when listening to What Kind of Fool is how well-constructed and easy it is to listen to. This is apparent from the get-go with the original title track which is a nice bridge between traditional blues and a more contemporary sound. Thomas’ voice is smooth, and the plot is the usual tale of a man whose lady is stepping out on him. The guitars are artfully layered with a righteous dose of slide and it is perfectly mixed and recorded. This song is a slick as they come, and was the perfect choice to get things started. I wish we had a radio station in Los Angeles that would play stuff like this!

From there they transition into a modernized take on Albert King’s “I Got the Blues” which is highlighted by a sublime patchwork of rhythm and lead guitars. With half of the play time and no horns or keys this song ends up with a different character than the original. Despite its more bare-bones personality, The Mojo Roots were able to make this is one as smooth as silk. Another well-done cover is the 1965 Otis Redding A-side, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” This truly beautiful song is a classic and Thomas’ voice is certainly up to the task. John D’Agostino contributes some tasteful organ work that makes the mood on this track complete.

Their original songs have clever lyrics and are well-constructed. “That Kind of Girl” did not go where I expected from the title, but instead ended up as a celebration of a woman that is totally out of reach. “Deaf, Dumb and Blind” is the heartbreaking tale of a woman who desperately pins her hopes on a man that will never treat her right. The quality of these songs makes me wish they could have included a heavier mix of original tunes on What Kind of Fool.

The boys finished up this project with a Chicago-tinted cover of Little Johnny Jones’ “Hoy Hoy Hoy.” This fast-paced romp features Thomas’ harmonica, and he coaxes a marvelous tone out of his harp. The band performs like seasoned veterans that they are; Rush keeps things moving throughout with a relentlessly walking bass line, while Naugle (the human metronome) beats his snare and crash cymbal to death. What a fun way to bring the curtain down on the show!

If you think that there is nothing new or exciting in the more conventional blues genres, What Kind of Fool will change your mind and give you hope for the future. This band is fresh and delivers the goods with eleven first-rate tracks, and they obviously went all out to give us their finest effort. Any up-and-coming artists should pick up a copy of this album so they can see how high the bar has become, and to get some pointers on what can be done with a modern blues album.

As I said earlier, I am jonesing to catch The Mojo Roots’ live show, and apparently there are a few other folks who agree, as the band was a semi-finalist at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Give What Kind of Fool a listen, and if you are in the Missouri area and like what you heard, check them out for yourselves. You might run into me there…


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