Sunday, April 17, 2016

Andy Poxon – Must be Crazy | Album Review

Andy Poxon – Must be Crazy

EllerSoul Records

13 tracks / 58:00

Folks like Andy Poxon are the future of the American music scene, and that is a good thing. Just barely into his 20s, he has three albums to his credit, each one has showed marked improvement over the previous, and they are all entertaining. Must Be Crazy, from EllerSoul Records, is his latest release and it is a must-buy in my book.

Andy comes from a musical family, and has seriously devoted himself to the guitar and mastering the art of writing and performing American music: blues, rockabilly, soul, rhythm and blues, and even a little jazz. He cut his first disc when he was 16, using this as a springboard to play even more shows around Washington DC and up and down the east coast.

Must Be Crazy features Andy on vocals and guitars, and he got a killer band together to back him up at the Rock House Studio in Franklin, Tennessee. The crew included Kevin McKendree on keys, Kenneth Blevins on drums, Steve Mackey on the bass and Jim Hoke on sax. Oh yes, and the fabulous McCrary Sisters and Chloe Kohanski on backing vocals! This disc was produced by Poxon and McKendree, and Kevin’s son, Yates, sits in on one track behind the organ.

A lot of hard work was put into this album, and it comes with 13 tracks, all of them written by Andy, with co-writing credit going to a McKendree on five of them. The title track is first up, and Poxon channels a little Elmore James with his big guitar and his swinging vocals. McKendree’s piano and Hoke’s sax make “Must Be Crazy” complete and give it that big city sound. This is followed up by the soulful “Living Alone,” which looks at the brighter aspects of being newly single, as he found out “how little he had to lose.” He does a nice job of punctuating his lines with smoky little riffs as necessary. There is not enough space here for a rundown on every song, but here are a few other highlights:

- This album is not all guitars and glory, and on a soul song like “Give Me the Chance” it is wise to let the piano and organ lead the way, at least to start things off. Poxon’s voice is smooth and the McCrary Sisters deliver the goods in a big way here. This is one of the standout tunes on the album, and shows how far Andy has come with his songwriting skills.

- “Harder Everyday” is a lovely R&B ballad that also features the McCrary Sisters, and very tasteful organ work from the elder McKendree. This song has a lot of neat textures, in particular a few layers of Hoke’s sax really help to make the mood and add a little drama where needed.

- Songs of love and loss are pretty common here, and “Already Gone” really dials things back and lets Andy lead with his vocals. Chloe Kohanski does a good job of matching her voice to Poxon’s, and the end result is another lovely bit of rhythm and blues.

”Rebound” closes out the set, and this instrumental features 14-year-old Yates McKendree on the organ. Andy flirts a bit with jazz on this lighthearted and funky piece, and it turns out to be a mellow way to end the set.

I hope that we see more albums from Andy Poxon, as Must Be Crazy shows a maturity in writing and musicianship that goes far beyond his years. My biggest worry is that some big name act will suck him up as a hired gun for his guitar, and that he will fade from the spotlight. I think he has a lot to say and it would a shame if we do not get to hear it!

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