Thursday, March 17, 2016


Whether or not veteran blues/roots performer Rob Lutes and jazz vibraphonist Michael Emenau set out to create something totally new is beside the point; they did, it's here in this genre-ignoring group, Sussex. If you put a gun to my head, I'd start throwing terms out, such as singer-songwriter jazz, or jazz-folk, or roots jazz. But really, it's more like "The guy who writes roots folk, blues and jazz songs on acoustic guitar teams up with a vibraphone player with beautiful melodies, and they colour it with violin, acoustic bass, trumpet and some electric guitar." File under:

Emenau and Lutes are two old friends from back in New Brunswick, who even played in the same high school band, went their separate paths, but hooked up again in 2014. They even named their joint project after a New Brunswick town. As for how such a combo of theirs would work, there were certainly no precedents out there, but it turned out to be a natural fit. With hints of early jazz, folk and blues material, both found common ground. Lutes, a spry and light-hearted lyricist, keeps the fun going and the pace lively. Emenau, on that most heavenly instrument, pours on a supply of wonderful, surprising notes, a beautiful compliment to Lutes' aching vocals.

Sage Reynolds' bass and Josh Zubot's violin are integral to the album's sound as well, and Ben Charest's guitar lines and Ivanhoe Jolicoeur's trumpet provide some special moments as well. Truth and Lies is an especially exciting number, as Emenau chases Lutes' quick vocal with ringing notes of his own, Zubot and Reynolds scooting along as well, dashing from key change to key change. This is new, I want more.

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