Artist: Wildcat O'Halloran Band Album: Here Lies A Fool Release:2021 Wildcat is a wonderful throwback to blues that seems to be influenced by artists that were recorded before the rise of Stevie Ray Vaughan. We all know the impact that SRV had on blues music and guitar playing in particular. To be clear, I love SRV music, but I also equally appreciate a more traditional approach that is closer to a Chicago influence. This space is where I have always heard Wildcat's music. A little less brute force and a little more grease. The raw tone and approach in both Cat's playing and production remind me a bit of the legendary Jelly Roll Kings. One of the things I always enjoy with the Wildcat recordings is the lyrics. So few artists in the blues genre fancy themselves as lyricists these days. His lyrics have a tongue and cheek quality that is a cross between Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon. There is something fun about his verses, but still quite clever. The ten song set starts with a song called Blind Love that has an Allman Brothers vibe. It is clear right from the jump that the band is aware of the power of a relaxed groove. There is a looseness to this track that just sits right where it is comfortable, never flirting with rock. They seem to be content just simmering, instead of boiling, which I find quite refreshing. The title track Here Lies A Fool is a great example of the lyrics that make Cat's recordings different from so many others. He says "I've got a roomful of runner up medallions and I ain't gonna stop cooking spaghetti, just because they tell me that I ain't Italian". It is all rolled into a rumba groove that seamlessly moves in and out of a shuffle. He has a classic approach to the blues, but something that is all his own at the same time. His ability to tell a colorful story is no doubt a big piece in the puzzle. Outskirts is another track that I really enjoyed. It is a slow burn classic blues that has patience to spare. This song is another one that is so loose that it feels like it is going to fall apart at any second but just doesn't. In some ways they're like a jam band that is casually strolling through the blues and seeing where it takes them. Patiently waiting to see what is around the next 12 bar bend in the path. This record is a cool mix of old blues covers and Wildcat originals. The playing and writing are raw, tasteful and heartfelt. It has a refreshing simplicity and maturity throughout its entirety. If you like your blues intake on the more traditional side with a songwriters lyrical sense you will likely enjoy this set. I know I did!
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