(2020) Mapledale Music. Ten song album. All original self recorded & produced by Garrison-Kennedy. Craig Garrison on bass, guitar and vocals, Kathy Kennedy on vocals, and featuring Jimi Bott on drums.
1. Early Morning Ride
2. Mirror Mirror
3. 4:05 Blues
4. Southbound 99
6. Honey Dripping Woman
7. House On The Hill
8. The Way You Love Me
10. Sunday Morning Church Bells
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Bak O Blues A Billy- Garrison Kennedy
Released 4/7/20 Copyright Mapledale Music
Here we have a collection of tracks from Garrison Kennedy who are a husband/wife combo specialising in low down blues with a country vibe and some rockabilly tendencies. Craig Garrison hails from Bakersfield, California, which is affectionately referred to as the country capital of the west coast, and his roots show in his music and song writing. The other part of this force of blues is named Kathy Kennedy who is a Canadian singer, writer and promoter.
This album contains 10 songs worth of bluesy, country, Americana goodness and will satisfy your soul from the opening note to the final chord. The album was released on the 4th of July 2020.
1. Early Morning Ride- This song opens with a mid tempo blues shuffle guitar riff which the whole song is grooved, moved and undulated along by. Kennedy’s vocals are delivered powerfully and with intent as there are some beautiful flowing country blues guitar licks that slide and slip around as the song progresses. A really nice rockabilly laden guitar break really leaps out of your speakers and grabs your by the ears. A very cool song.
2. Mirror Mirror- A slower more countrified song that lollops along groovily from the get go. A great major to minor guitar stab in the midst of the song brings a sharp shock of sadness to this melancholy song. Some great vocal vibrato from Kennedy, she really showcases her talent and pipes on this solid song to keep up the momentum on this album two tracks in.
3. 405 Blues- This song opens with an incredibly Cramps sounding two note drone but then soon drops into a rockabilly shuffling blues bop. A train beat on the drums is one to get the shoulders moving as Kennedy wails about boarding a southbound train and hearing the 405 whistle blow. Some really nice rockabilly guitar flourishes help to embellish the Bakersfield sound emitting from my speakers and into my ear canal.
4. Southbound 99- This greasy stomp has vocal duties taken over by Craig Garrison to a back drop of a simple yet amazingly effective CCR esque blues groove. The vibrato effect on the guitar really gives it an eerie, mystical quality and the sounds bend around and wobble their way around this song. Kennedy comes in with back up vocals and their vocal styles really compliment each other well and work to give the song an even deeper feel of blues authenticity. A really cool piece of music in at number 4 on this record.
5. Bak-O-Blues- A- Billy – The records title track is up next at number 5 on the album and this one is another mid tempo song. Some nice claps and percussion give this song an extra depth and help fill out the sonic landscape well. Everybody needs some Bak-O-Blues-A-Billy in their lives. A shuffle on the drums drives the music along nicely and some cowbell touches really are a nice addition. The standard blues 1/4/5 is present which gives this song a sense of familiarity. I enjoyed the call and response parts of the song especially. Nice writing.
6. Honey Dripping Woman- This is a slow blues song in the Key of E, a best blues key! I The duet vocal style is great as the contrast between the voices and the interplay between the husband and wife team really works well. Excellent groovy blues guitar work and a powerful and well thought out solo giving a tour round all the big blues licks this song has to offer.
7. House on the Hill- An up-tempo song! This song gives off Black Crowes vibes and is a great bit of stomping rock and roll. The guitar sounds as if it has been down tuned, which is an excellent way to make the bass string rockabilly-pickin’ stand out against the tide of energy in this song. A song about being poor and still rockin’ just my kinda music! My favourite track on the album, a real rip roaring slice of Americana from Garrison Kennedy here.
8. The Way You Love Me- This song has a foot tappin’ feel about it from the outset on that Bo Diddley style guitar beat is a driving element and is what takes the song forward as the drums in this song take a back seat for slick lyrics and guitar tricks. The bassline underpins it all very nicely for a well rounded and balanced piece of boogie. There’s a rockin’ countrified solo and the guitar almost conveys a sense of lap steel. Like if Angus Young was in a country band. Lovely bit of guitar work.
9. Cowboy- The furthest removed song from the blues on the album. Arpeggiated guitar work alongside sweeping chord rings frame Kennedy’s voice excellently as she sings about her cowboy. Yippi Kay Ya Yay ! Some brilliant harmonies during the fadeout of the song from Kennedy, really showing off her vocal range.
10. Sunday Morning Churchbells- The album is finished off by Sunday Morning Churchbells, another head nodding foot tapper. Great expression in the guitar playing and another sterling vocal display from Kennedy. The ringin’ out for the truth blend of vocal parts over the rest of the band at the end was a really pleasing bit of listening. Really nice production work there.
If you’re looking for a rocking little Americana record to listen to then you’re in for a treat with this one. It’s Bakersfield blues charm really shines through to make it an entertaining, swaying, smooth and seductive record. I would have liked to hear another couple of harder, faster tracks similar to ‘House on the Hill’ as I think that was the strongest song on the record, an earworm for sure!
Review by Mckinley Chadwick