Sunday, June 26, 2016
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: AL LERMAN - SLOW BURN
It's always a welcome move when Al Lerman goes off on his own from the much-loved Fathead for a solo blues/roots album. He certainly has lots of solid material for it, with eleven originals here, plus Kokomo (yes, the blues cut, not the Cocktail-Beach Boys number - whew!). And although he does his share of playing alone at times, here he brings on lots of friends to make a fun, largely uptempo album, with both acoustic and electric tracks.
There's lots of harp of course, but it's more important to know he also handles all the guitar here, showing that he's able to stand up with anyone. There's a clean, sweet, pleasing tone to the whole set, and along with Lerman's friendly and warm vocals,and the great grooves, the album is simply a pleasure.
In the end though, it's the songwriting that takes it a cut above, Lerman a fine storyteller who finds different topics and good ideas. Don't Try To Push Your Mess On Me is about anyone trying to dump their problems with other cultures and religions on their fellow countrymen. Bad Luck Blues is about a true Ontario bank job, which feels like a George Clooney movie put to a smooth groove. Gonna Have To Wait is a singer-songwriter number right up there with some John Hiatt tunes, and Any Way You Want moves with a relaxed pace and positive vibe. When Lerman does end the album with the instrumental title track, Slow Burn (an apt description), where he plays all the intertwined guitar and harp, you remember that he is a great player too, after being taken by all those fine words and vocals the whole way through.