On the heels of 2009’s Walking Stick, Byrnes once again displays his expertise at all aspects of making blues and soul music. Byrnes is an excellent guitarist as he proves here, particularly on Jimmy Reed’s “Take out Some Insurance on Me Baby” and his originals “Hot As A Pistol” and the autobiographical “Me And Piney Brown.” He and producer Steve Dawson on acoustic and electric guitar (straight and slide) are each other’s perfect complement, both completely comfortable and natural with the music. Byrnes and Dawson (on pedal steel) roll with ease from the easygoing country ballad “Walk On” to the country blues/rockabilly mix of “No Mail Blues” right through the sinister funk of Byrnes’ original “Storm Warning,” a Dixieland flavored version of Robert Johnson’s “Four Until Late” and a knockout slow grind take on Reed’s “Insurance” without a hitch.
Byrnes’ is kindred spirit of the first generation of newly electrified bluesmen and women whose music was a mix of rural and urban elements impossible to separate, and for whom the thrill of the experience was brandnew. When Byrnes sings and plays his heart out on songs like “Me And Piney Brown,” he makes it feel like things are still that way.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.