Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Billy the Kid and the Regulators – I Can't Change | Album Review

Billy the Kid and the Regulators – I Can't Change

Self Release


10 tracks / 40:19

Billy the Kid and the Regulators are an award-winning rhythm and blues band out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their tight guitar-fueled sound has earned them a couple of trips to the International Blues Challenge and the love of the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania, who awarded them 1st place in 2013. Their latest album, I Can't Change, is a cool piece of work that was produced by Damon Fowler, the supreme bluesman out of Florida.

Billy the Kid is the pseudonym of guitarist and vocalist Billy Evanochko, and the core of The Regulators are Jon Vallecorsa (guitar), James Dougherty (slide guitar), Brian Edwards (drums), Arnold Stagger (bass) and Ublai Bey (keys). There are also plenty of guests artists on this latest disc, which is made up of a ten tracks; these are mostly originals with a few neat covers thrown in. Here are a few of the highlights:

- The title track kicks things off, and the original “I Can’t Change” has a full and funky sound. The vocals are hearty, and there is a lot to accompany them: this includes layers of guitars, a fat horn section of Reggie Watkins, Rick Matt, and J.D. Chasin, and soulful backing vocals from Yolanda Barber. This is a well-written tune that requires a tight band to pull it off and the Regulators deliver the goods.

- “What Are We Fighting For” is a gorgeous R&B tune with Ublai Bey setting the mood perfectly with the organ chords. With a song like this it is handy that there are so many guitarists in the group as they are able to combine the lead, rhythm and slide parts with the tight horns into a cool melody to accompany the regretful lyrics of romantic strife.

- “That Darn Cat” adds funky fun to the playlist, with witty lyrics that are delivered in almost a spoken-word fashion. Barber does a fine job supplementing the vocals and Stagger pops out a hot bass line with aggressive harmonica work courtesy of Jason Ricci. It is neat to see the band branch out in different directions and the diversity really works for them.

- A pair of guest guitarists sit in on “Saturday Night,” and the axes of Damon Fowler and Ohioan Sean Carney make this high energy blues rocker shine. They have a great interplay, and there is also a sweet dose of tasty harp work from Ricci over the driving backline of Stagger and Edwards. This is a fun tune, and it will probably make its way over to my party mix!

- There are a few noteworthy covers on this disc. Jimmy Reed’s “Can't Stand to See You Go” does not stray too far from the original, with loping guitar riffs and a genuine roadhouse sound. Ricci’s harp takes a few leads and the vocals are carefully enunciated, making for a vintage vibe. Robert Johnson’s classic “Me and the Devil Blues” closes out the album, and this short song is a nice trip back to where the blues came from. This acoustic track includes only the vocals, acoustic guitar and harp, and it serves as a cool bookend to a set of modern blues songs.

I Can't Change is a strong collection of rhythm and blues and blues-rock from Billy the Kid and the Regulators, and they have something special going here. This album was released last year, so hopefully they are putting together a follow-up for us to enjoy soon. In the meantime, be sure to head to their website to see if they have any gigs near you soon!

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