During the ’70s heyday of Southern rock, Jimmy Hall was frontman with Wet Willie. In subsequent years, the Alabama native provided vocals on Jeff Beck’s 1985 Flash album and played sax and harmonica with Hank Williams, Jr. More recently, Joe Bonamassa put his clout where his adoration is, signing Hall to his Keeping The Blues Alive label, co-producing the album with Josh Smith, co-writing five tunes, and lending guitar licks.
“Jumpin’ For Joy” gets things to a rousing start, with Hall’s gruff voice and blues harp riding over an incessant chug. The repertoire straddles blues, real-deal rock and roll, and blue-eyed soul – the latter exhibited on “Risin’ Up,” punctuated by Bonamassa’s sting. “Girl’s Got Sugar” is a high-speed train ride featuring pressure-packed guitar by Smith, while the title ballad shows off Warren Haynes’ urgent slide in a gospel vein.
Bonamassa adds sensitive call-and-response before soaring Clapton-like on “A Long Goodbye,” and Jared James Nichols delivers perhaps the most beautiful solo on “Without Your Love.” The musicianship and songwriting are first-rate throughout. It’s a guitar party, but Hall is the real star. If this is a comeback, it’s a very strong one.
This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.