Monday, November 28, 2011

Boom! reviewed by Mark Thompson

Tom Hambridge
Superstar Records
11 tracks/38:00

Tom Hambridge has captured the attention of the blues world through his work on Living Proof, Buddy Guy's last release. Hambridge was the producer, drummer and songwriter for this project that has captured numerous Blues Blast and Blues Music awards, including Song of the Year honors for the title track.

His latest solo recording finds Hambridge enlisting the services of several Nashville-based musicians – guitarist Rob McNelley and keyboard wizard Kevin McKendree from the Delbert McClinton band plus Tommy MacDonald on bass. Their expert assistance allows Hambridge to explore all of his musical interests while maintaining a consistently exciting sound.

“Upside of Lonely” takes a humorous, tongue-in-cheek look at the advantages of being single with McNelley's taut guitar licks sparking the basic blues rhythmic pattern. On “Never Gonna Change”, Hambridge sings with authority while guest Mark Jordan pounds the piano and McNelley plays slide guitar with a dirty, nasty tone that makes this track another highlight. Hambridge switches to a lighter country-rock sound on “The Best in Me” before demonstrating his mastery of the current country music sound on “I Got Your Country Right Here”, complete with soaring vocals, raging guitars and references to several of the classic southern rock bands. “I Keep Things” has bright, ringing guitar parts that echo the Tom Petty sound as Hambridge runs through some his important possessions.

The band channels the Rolling Stones sound on “Two Thumbs Up”, a spirited, straight-ahead rocker about a woman with star quality. McNelley once again sets the pace with his outstanding playing as Hambridge's vocal leaves you wondering just what exactly are his intentions. “The Pistol” tells the tale of death, stolen money and a lifetime of looking over the shoulder, waiting for retribution. The full-blown arrangement features an insistent beat from Hambridge and lots of guitars while McKendree on piano fills in any open spaces. Each band member gets to stretch out a bit on the driving instrumental “Bangin' Around”. The reflective “Things I Miss the Most” finds Hambridge yearning for his loved ones back home as he deals with the rigors of life on the road. McKendree's pumping piano propels the ramped-up tempo for “I Had a Real Good Time”, with Hambridge once again showing his skill as a rock-n-roll singer.

Despite his success, Tom Hambridge has no intentions of limiting himself just to blues music. And the world is a better place for that decision as Boom! is an outstanding rock-n-roll recording. Hambridge and friends wrote a engaging batch of songs that his veteran band brings to life in performances that will burrow into consciousness and stay there for days. When was the last time you listen to a recording like that? Highly recommended !!!

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

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