Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mick Kolassa – Taylor Made Blues | Album Review

Mick Kolassa – Taylor Made Blues

Swing Suit Records

www.mimsmick.com

12 tracks / 48:09

Mick Kolassa has been a bluesman for decades, and over the years he has become an accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist. But his waters go a lot deeper than that, as he is also on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation and all of the proceeds from his latest album, Taylor Made Blues, will be going to the HART Fund and Generation Blues charities that are administered by the Blues Foundation. If you are not familiar with these organizations, please look them up as they help artists in need and kids that are getting into the blues.

Kolassa’s latest CD is a solid set that includes eight Kolassa originals and four really neat cover tunes. This project was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis and it was produced by Jeff Jensen -- this was the successful formula for his last release, Ghosts of the Riverside Hotel). This disc features a host of Mick’s friends, including Jensen, Victor Wainwright, Bill Ruffino, Reba Russell, Chris Stephenson, “Long Tall Deb” Landolt, and more. Of course Kolassa plays his acoustic guitar and handles most of the vocals too. The album title is a play on Mick’s hometown of Taylor, Mississippi, which is just an hour and a half south of Memphis.

Kolassa shares his love for all kinds of blues in his original songs, and one of my favorites is the title track, a slick piece of laid back swampy blues that extolls the joys of sticking a little closer to home and living in a small town. Likewise, “My Hurry Done Broke” is a humorous country blues song that bemoans the impatience of others, especially when they are younger than you. And “I’m Getting Late” is a clever play on words that describes getting a little too close to the tornado that the gig scene can be. By the way, Bill Ruffino and James Cunningham hold down the backline throughout, and one could not hope for a better rhythm section.

But not every track is loaded up with chuckles and grins, as Mick uses song to express all kinds of emotions. For example, “Left Too Soon” is a sweet piece of jazzy blues that is used to convey regret for things that were left undone. And the closer, “Raul Was My Friend,” is a poignant tribute to a cherished friend, and this ballad is simply gorgeous.

The cover tunes are an interesting lot too, as they have been re-imagined a bit from their original versions. Graham Nash’s quirky pop tune “Prison Song” has been converted to slow-grinding blues with updated lyrics and gorgeous guitar work, including some baritone guitar from Colin James. The late Townes Van Zandt’s 1969 folk tune, “Lungs” is now suitable for a cocktail lounge, and Chris Stephenson’s piano really helps to set the mood. The Temptations’ funk masterpiece “Can't Get Next to You” is now a smooth blues rocker with backing vocals from Russell and Landolt, B3 from Stephenson, and guitar from special guest Castro “Mr. Sipp” Coleman. But the most fascinating of these is not even really a cover song, as Mick set Frank Lebby Stanton’s poem “Keep a Goin’” to a country blues / gospel soundtrack, complete with a vocal solo from Long Tall Deb.

If you just listen to the content and the musicianship, you will find that Mick Kolassa’s Taylor Made Blues is a really neat album that would make any blues fan happy. But, when you throw in the fact that the proceeds will further blues music education and help out musicians in need, this CD should be at the top of your purchase list. Why don’t you start your holiday shopping early, and pick up a copy today!

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