Thursday, September 10, 2020



Hamilton-area blues and soul vets make up this group, nominated for a Maple Blues Award for their debut in 2017. This follow-up was delayed by the death of producer Nick Blagona before he finished the album, but his superior audio touch is all over the half-hour, seven-track disc. It's a worthy project to cap the famed engineer's career, which saw him as the in-house wiz at Le Studio for luminaries such as Cat Stevens, The Bee Gees and Deep Purple, and producer for The Tea Party, Kim Mitchell and April Wine, among hundreds of projects.

Downstream is a grittier set than the band's self-titled debut, as the band takes full advantage of its wide range of experience, and having two strong singers on board. Both Wayne Krawchuk and Sue Leonard take their own leads, and team up for some strong duets, including the cooking closer "Until The Rain Stops," a heavy and funky blues. The other duet, a cover of Van Morrison's "You Gotta Make It Through The World," hints at gospel, and lets the pair sing with gusto.

"Knack For That" and "Scratching Post" both feature inventive arrangements, touches that take each song past the usual blues workouts. Surprising bits and pieces pop up at just the right times, such as Mark Volkov's brief flute line and Lily Sazz's keys in the latter tune. As for songwriting, "Meant For Something More" would have made a great '70's soul single, when soul singles were great.

Best of all (I didn't think of this until this very second, and I've been listening to this album for a couple of weeks), I can't think of another band, at least in the roots/adult world, with three men and three women, counting in Amy Di Nino on drums and Ian Taylor on bass. Parity.

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