July 20, 2024


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CD review: Adam Holt – Kind of Blues 2019: Video, CD cover

The acronym “RIYL” is a fabulous piece of shorthand, a key that unlocks the mystery of what an artist’s work looks and/or sounds like.

Alabama’s Adam Holt is “Recommended If You Like” Allen Collins, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, and Gregg Allman. Holt has a powerful, melodic voice, each word clear as crystal, and his guitar ain’t half-bad either. What he lacks in traditional blues rhythms and subject matter, he makes up for with smooth style and robust instrumentation. He also does a great job of making sure he doesn’t outshine his compatriots. Rarely has Ms. Wetnight heard such perfect balance of each separate musical element on a blues CD. Nine original songs plus one cover (Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”) equal one marvelous effort.

“The title, Kind of Blues, is a reflection of the styles within the sound of the album,” Holt reveals in his promotional material. “It has a blend of blues, country, Americana, and rock-and-roll, tied together by contemporary blues licks. The name is also a nod to Kind of Blue, the album made famous by Miles Davis, which I know very well. I listened to [it] many nights while I worked on my analog recording gear, compressors, preamps and my tape machines, which I used to make this record.”

Accompanying Adam (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars) are Owen Finley on bass, Greg Deluca on drums, Donnie Sundal on organ and piano, Lee Yankie (no typo and no joke) on slide guitar, Mark Welborn on pedal steel, and Pierre Robinson on bass.

The following three tracks show how good Adam Holt is, his RIYL influences notwithstanding.

Track 01: “Mr. Morning Drive” – As one might expect, the subject of this song is a stalwart DJ – his wife’s grandfather! – whose expertise livened up motorists’ path to work or play. “Fifty years on the radio, going, going, going – Mr. Morning Drive.” The groove here is one of anticipation instead of anathema, daring instead of drudgery. Donnie Sundal’s piano notes fall like drops of sunshine on your consciousness as Holt’s guitar compels you to rethink your views on commuting. Check out the call letters for the radio station – “WOOW.” That’s what you’ll say when you hear this. You’ll also hear Jack Bell’s actual voice recorded on a vintage microphone.

Track 03: “Bobby” – Addiction is in the top ten list of popular subjects for blues and rock songs. From Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” to Martika’s “Toy Soldiers,” its perils have been described far and wide. What makes this ballad notable is the visceral way in which the addict is described: “Bobby, you’ve lost your way. You’ve gone from the rock to the cocaine. Bobby, you’ve lost your head. You pick yourself up off the floor, and you crawl into a king-sized bed…” The church-style organ at the beginning is a spot-on introduction to this come-to-Jesus sermon.

Track 08: “The Bourgeoisie” – Ever heard the term “humblebrag?” The narrator of this song defines it in a tongue-in-cheek way: “I’ve made my mark on society. Now all my friends want to be like me, in the lap of luxury. I live a life only they can dream. They want to know how I do so well. That’s a story that I’ll never tell. It’s a secret I must keep so with the Joneses I can meet.” Hear how the guitar laughs as you listen, pointing its fretwork fingers at lesser accomplishments.

If you love Southern rock, you’ll adore Adam Holt’s Kind of Blues!

Styles: Country Blues, Southern Rock, Contemporary Electric and Acoustic Blues Rock.

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