Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back Around Here reviewed by Steve Jones

Back Around Here
Rob Stone
Earwig Music Company, Inc.
12 tracks

Rob Stone is the real deal. I have heard him on many other albums and here we finally see him out in front with a new CD for the first time in seven years. Rob wrote 8 new songs and presents 4 older tunes here; he’s done a fantastic job. His smooth vocals and powerfully expressive harp make him my favorite current artist in the Earwig stable of fine musicians.

Joining Rob are guitarist Chris James and bassist Patrick Rynn, his longtime C-Notes band mates. Also making appearances are pianist David Maxwell, drummers Sam Lay, Willie Hayes, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and saxist Rodney Brown,a veritable all-star lineup. Stone has grown so much from being a Chicago House of Blues regular and is truly one of the top harp men out there, but I am also equally impressed by his vocals.

The title track is a smooth, jumping and rocking guitar tune which contrasts the greasy harp blowing on the opener “You’re No Good For Me” where Stone gives a Little Walter styled effort. Slow blues like “Love You For Myself” are equally impressive; he sells each song with his strong vocals and harp along with an equally great backup band.

Maxwell give his all in great barrelhouse fashion on classic tracks like “Sloppy Drunk Blues” and in the new “Can’t Turn Back the Clock”, adding a superb sound to the mix. Evoking the soul of Lerpoy Carr or doing his own stuff appear to be right up Stone’s alley. The covers and new stuff both showcase why the “hardest working bluesman in Chicago” is a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve listened to all six of the new Earwig releases and I think this one is my favorite. They are all damn good CD’s, but Stone’s vocals really pushed this over the top; he croons his way to your heart on this album. It was a long wait to hear a new CD from this guy but after to listening to this it was almost worth the long wait. James and Rynn got a lot of props for their recent CD and their new one is up there, too, but Stone’s work is great and he’d got his buddies and other stars supporting him well. Don’t miss this one!

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