(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, May 10, 2010

CD review - Michael Juan Nunez, The American Electric (2009)

Louisiana is a national treasure, providing countless great musicians over the years, from blues to Zydeco to jazz. Michael Juan Nunez is a proud son of that musical tradition. Cutting his teeth with Lafayette's RiverBabys, he's also played with a fair number of classic LA musicians. The American Electric is his third solo release and it's quite a wild ride, bounding from Cajun flavored blues rock to old-time blues, with several side trips besides.

A key element of his sound is his slide guitar playing, which I put on par with Johnny Winter. He's got wicked tone and great control. While he's not quite as inventive as Sonny Landreth, he's no slouch. Listen to the tight electric blues of Bulldog. While that live version lacks the bass and percussion of the album version, you can catch the slide accents thrown into the basic groove, with some more interesting slide work coming in during the lead. The lyrics are clever and this is clearly a club favorite.

The next track, Mr. Jones, crosses a stumble-rhythm blues rocker with Hendrix's Voodoo Chile Slight Return. It's lyrically derivative of Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man, with some of the acid tone, but more repetitive. There's a fair amount of White Stripes in there too, as Nunez cops an in-your-face attitude. Once again, the slide sails in over the top and howls an inner angst. This is the rough diamond of The American Electric.

There are plenty of other good tracks, including the soulful R&B of Groove With Me and the old time blues of Doney. The only odd note is NeckTie, with its cut time beat and weird retro feel. It's not a bad song and I suppose it helps show Nunez's range, but the album would have been fine without it.

While a drinking party can be fun, this music calls for a flavorful session beer -- good taste and nothing to slow your feet from feeling the beat. Maybe a Pilsner Urquell would hit the spot, balanced and smooth.

1 comment:

  1. Just ran across this review. I am glad you enjoyed the record. It's deffinately the most eclectic thing I've ever done. We are fixing to go into the studio and start working on a new one...not as 'out there' hahaha...but I promise a lot more guitar, and some great songs.
    Anyway appreciate the support! Rock on!