Monday, September 19, 2011

Just A Dream reviewed by Rick Davis

Just A Dream
Moreland & Arbuckle
Telarc Records
12 Tracks

If you have never seen or heard guitarist Aaron Moreland and harpist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle, combined with superb drums of Brad Horner, you are missing one of the best young trios in the blues business today. Their music will have your heart pounding with the powerful hard-driving guitar of Moreland, the raw vocals and electrifying harp of Arbuckle, and the pulsating drum beat of Horner.

The Kansas blues group met at an open-mic jam in Wichita, Kansas, in 2001. Moreland, who had been influenced at an early age by groups like Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Black Sabbath, Charley Patton, Motley Crue, finally decided on staying with traditional blues. Arbuckle, deeply in tune with the Mississippi Delta blues, was intrigued with harpists Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williams and guitarist Son House. Moreland joined Arbuckle’s blues rock band just a few months before the group dissolved, then the two started a quartet called the Kingsnakes, which Arbuckle describes as “electrified Mississippi blues mixed with a sludgy, jam-oriented rock thing.” This eclectic group could be best construed primarily as a soul, country, funk, jam rock, and blues group. Horner joined in 2003, left for a period of time, returning in 2006. By then Morland and Arbuckle had decided to continue to lay down tracks on their own. Moreland's signature guitar sound is created using conventional Telecaster, steel, and Les Paul guitars, but that early 1900 Delta bluesman sound comes from a hand-crafted four string cigar box guitar with one string feeding into a bass amp and the other three feeding into a guitar amp.
Their lastest CD Just A Dream, is a follow up to their last Telarc CD Flood which included the hard drivin' tune "Legend Of John Henry" along with 12 other blues treasures! Just A Dream, a CD Morland and Arbuckle spent a lot of time producing, opens with the two most powerful tunes "The Brown Bomber" and the highly charged "Purgatory." Moreland and Arbuckle have created a great distorted sound with a little slide guitar on both tunes. There is a high quality sinister video available on the internet of the tune "Purgatory." The title track "Just A Dream" give us just a hint of county blues with almost a southern rock style guitar with incredible harp and vocals from Arbuckle. "Travel Every Mile" offers a slow haunting sound with subdued background vocals once again showcasing both artists. They continue with a Tom Waits tune "Heartattack & Vine" a song they frequently do live. "Troll" moves into an almost psychedelic rock mode with a 60's sounding keyboard throughout. "Gypsy Violin" is a tune of silent thoughts blended with a 60's background. "Shadow Never Changes," with it's thought provoking lyrics, has a mystical underlying tone, combined again with subtle keyboards in the background, much like a Pink Floyd tune. "Good Love" brings back that early Delta sound by both Moreland and Arbuckle. Arbuckle starts "Who Will Be Next" rockin' on harp, a song sounding much more like a typical traditional blues number. "So Low" give you classic rock guitar sound typical of the 60's.  Moreland and Arbuckle conclude this collection with a contribution by Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the M.G.'s on "White Lightnin'," with Cropper providing guitar riffs throughout the song.
What a follow up to the last brilliant CD Flood ! Moreland sums it up by saying, “This is the best record of our careers…” I’m not sure listeners would survive anything better, but I’d bet they’d give it a go.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

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