Port City Prophets
I try not to prejudge a CD by it’s cover. Just like a book, you don’t really know what’s inside until you listen. Well, I set myself up with this CD. A huge mule nostril stares at you on the cover of this CD and I must say I had low expectations. When I played it, things rapidly changed.
The band starts out with a driving swing song called “Close Your Eyes.” Stinging guitar, great lyrics and vocals and a big back beat told me maybe I should not have pre-judged this. When the slide guitar lit off to open “Jesus Saved My Soul But…” I knew that certainly had been hasty. A gritty, slow and mean slide song with equally dirty vocals. The “but” is that, “Jesus Saved my soul, but my money belongs to my wife. It’s a good thing that heaven’s free because that lady she sure is tight.” Tim Kirkendall’s testifying and Troy Tolie’s guitar made me a believer. Maybe mule nostrils aren’t so bad...what a cut!
Organ work added by Bill Nance takes us a little bit to church as “I Already Know” begins. A slow and quiet song that builds and build so well, it really displays soul-felt emotions. “Mule In A One Horse Town” is some rocking blues. More grit and dirt in the vocals and a big guitar and organ sound make this one really sweet. “When The Lights go Down in St. Louis” may hearken back to bassist and vocalist Tim Kirkendall’s home town, but these guys are low country blues men with the port and swamps of South Carolina percolating in their souls.
The trio and occasional friend sitting in continue the charge with “Done Changed My Mind.” A blistering guitar opens the song and then Kirkendall continues his vocal onslaught by giving us the blues done so convincingly right. Henry Ancrum’s drums here are simple yet effective. The beat makes the tune feel much more earthy and gusty. On “Let Me Breathe” we get more beautiful and soulful blues with thoughtful organ and guitar work. “No Time” is more rocking and has some more passionate vocal work. “I Used To Love You” opens o some bass licks and cool keys and then the guitar and drums add to the primal nature of this. More deep gutsy blues with poignant lyrics delivered extremely effectively. They close with “Pluff Mud,” the only light and airy number on this otherwise down and dirty blues CD. Light and airy as it starts, at least, with a good little minute intro before the band hits it hard and drives the CD to a rousing finish on a super instrumental. Guitar and organ trade the lead, the bass and drums again go beyond worldly and they deliver a remarkable finish to a remarkable album.
I loved this CD. It has songs with great lyrics, great vocals, and great musicianship. I want to see these guys live– the unleashed version would have to be even more amazing. Most highly recommended!!!
Reviewed by Steve Jones