May 28, 2024

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CD review: J. P. Soars – Let Go of the Reins 2019: Video, CD cover

J.P. Soars brings us a brand new CD produced by Tab Benoit. It was recorded at Tab’s Whiskey Bayou studio in Houma, LA. The bands is Soar’s Red Hots with drummer Chris Peet on the bass and Tab on the drums. Tillis Verdin plays on 6 tracks with his hot B3 organ.  The session came together quickly and resulted in a very cool album. Credits for songs are noted and the rest are originals by Soars.

Things start off with blues, New Orleans and some funk blended up in a stew of sweet stuff.  The repetitive guitar riff gives it funk, Soars’ gutsy vocals and stinging guitar are firmly rooted in blues quite interesting and well done with a NOLA vibe .  The guitar is predominant and really super here.  Verdin’s B3 also adds nicely to the mix and offers a good solo to boot. “Been Down So Long” is the opener which is a spiced up and sped up Soars rework by of a J.B. LeNoir’s tune. Next it’s Soars take on the Ozark Mountain Daredevils with “If You Wanna Get to Heaven.”  The take is not the pop rock of the OMDs but a more gritty and grinding style with Soars’ big guitar and gruff vocals behind a similar driving beat.  The 1973 tunes gets a big facelift here with Soars in charge and the organ giving fine support. “Freddy King Thing” is J.P.’s take on Freddy with a sweet guitar lead and driving beat.  Soars growls in his inimitable style and offers up more fantastic guitar.  The backline is driving and the B3 is helping out, too. Next is the title track that opens with some interesting guitar work, blending hill country and a sort of psychedelic approach to good effect.  Soars sings with emotion, the guitar is primal and modern at the same time, and the beat gets the pulse up a little.  Quite interesting and effective stuff!

“Crow’s Nest” is a sweet instrumental with a jazzy feel.  The B3 wails, the guitar picks out some nice stuff and the groove is cool. J.P. and Tillis let it all hang out here. Next is a song co-written with Tab entitled “Lonely Fire.”  A slow ballad, the song’s simplicity is a big selling point with restrained guitar and organ  with Soars giving us a toned down set of vocals.  The acoustic guitar work is big and meaty, with a Spanish guitar feel. “Have Mercy On My Soul” is a free wheeling and dirty cut with Soars in full growl and a heavy beat. Soars solos twice in similar fashion, with some hot licks to thoroughly enjoy. “Let It Ride” is a nice country bluegrass cut written by Randy Whatley.  Soars sings like he’s getting ready to be a Gospel singer (well, that’s a stretch) and plays some super pedal steel guitar.

“Minor Blues” is a Django Reinhardt cut that is a dark instrumental with an air of mystery and intrigue.  Soars plays his guitar evocatively and it’s just another cool cut to add to the mix. “Time To Be Done” is a straightforward funky blues rocker with a nice groove and great organ work.  The guitar gives us a funkiness as Soars wails. The album concludes with some banjo and slide in the downhome “Old Silver Bridge.”  Soars sings a bit, but it’s mostly a pretty banjo piece with layers of the instrument to enjoy.  Soars mixes it up well and gives us an eclectic but very cool ending this album.

There is lots to enjoy here with great original cuts and some fantastic takes on some older tunes.  Soars and Company are imaginative and musically adroit, offering an interesting set of tunes with variety and outstanding musicianship.

What’s not to like here?  This is all great stuff and J.P.’s fans will love it.  New to Soars?  Then this is a great example of what he can do.  Benoit’s helped produce and pull out a super set of tunes that will make your summer travels a lot of fun as you savor this CD over and over again.

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