(5 / 5)
Nashville-based guitarist, singer and songwriter JD Simo is a killer axe man, great voice and superb songwriter.
He shines brightly on his latest long player and more than proves he really is a triple threat.
Recorded in just two days at his personal studio, JD recreated some of his favourite blues songs in a raw and inventive way.
Only five songs but it packs a punch for the full 40 minutes, from the groove-soaked and slide-drenched Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Mortgage On My Soul” to the raunchy closer ““Higher Plane Pt 1. & Pt. 2”.
John Coltrane’s “Afro Blue”, is bloody sublime with vibes of the likes of Miles Davis, Hendrix and the percussive nature of Brubeck’s “Take Five”. Stunner.
Penultimate cut Blind Alfred Reed’s “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live” delivers a country-blues, laid back track sat on some tears-in-your-beers slide guitar.
The two originals here, are high end quality: The free-jazz take on Simo’s own “Higher Plane” (from his self-titled 2020 solo record), and the brand-new Meters-inspired cut “Missy’s Strut” – channelling Meters’ classic “Cissy Strut”.
Recorded with his trio (completed by drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Todd Bolden), JD explains: “This album is a live snapshot of me and the fellas playing some favourite tracks, and I think it comes through on the recordings just how comfortable and easy-going the sessions were. It’s as if you’re in the room with us hanging out. I couldn’t be prouder, as it captures my best playing ever.”
JD’s love and respect for the roots of blues and rock ‘n roll led him to be chosen by music supervisor David Cobb to record all the guitar parts for the recent blockbuster biopic “Elvis”.
Splitting his band SIMO in 2017 and going solo, JD issued a well received 2019 solo debut, “Off At 11”, followed by a self-titled 2020 effort that connected the missing link between Woodstock and Motown. His last studio album, “Mind Control”, dropped in late 2021 and earned plaudits on both sides of the pond.
Collaborations with the likes of Jack White, Tommy Emmanuel, Luther Dickinson, Dave Cobb and Blackberry Smoke, as well as time spent as part of Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh’s ‘Phil & Friends’, have further cemented his reputation among guitar music aficionados.
A fabulous album most likely to feature on many “Best of 2023” lists at the end of the year – deservedly so.
By Les Howard
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