by J. Pepper
Jim Gustin’s voice is uniquely his own, to compare him to other blues vocal cats, is to miss the unique timbre in his voice that sets him apart from the pack. His natural rasp and huge baritone range, gives him the perfect vehicle to convey the funktabulous blues he and his band lay down, with Prine like harmonies to boot.
His female counterpart Jeri Goldenhar, deemed aka Truth Jones, offers a slicker soulful side that melds together like brandy and fire, they are a perfect fit. The two penned all ten originals, Gustin with six and collaborating on four, where Truth Jones takes the vocal lead.
The new offering Memphis like the debut offering in 2013, Can’t Shed a Tear, is once again produced by West Coast producer Terry Wilson, who has worked with such noted blues artists such as: Eric Burden, Teresa James, and Ana Popovic. Gustin also makes his mark as a blues ax wielder with his efficient, guitar leads. Wilson anchors the rhythm section on bass with precision, and Teresa James, adds background vocals. Steve Alterman tickles the keys with Herman Mathews on drums.
Los Angeles is known for great blues acts, and Gustin has been playing as a sideman in the scene for 30 years. The pairing of these two veterans is a great story; they found each other performing at the same church, charity events or blues society gatherings, and thankfully for all of us, decided to lay it down in a lasting recorded format.
A nice pairing of two artists that have their own signature sound, are there blues shuffles – Yes, are there familiar sounds and rhythms, Yes, but seriously folks this is the blues – it is what we are looking for is that comfortable sound that gets to the heart of it. Luckily for the listener, there is enough of a healthy portion of originality that keeps is fresh. Tracks of note include “You Know Me Too Well,” a swampy sizzling tune that showcases Jones’ sass. “Memphis,” is a good time blues tune and Gustin sells it with believability. This tune for me had a cool Delaney and Bonnie vibe, that just kept the good feeling coming. Or the closer, “Right Time for Goodbye,” this tune shines for Gustin, and highlights the prowess of his voice. A recommended listen.
Track Listing: Half Past Ten; Live with Yourself; Memphis; You Know Me Too Well; I Love What I Got; Big Hearted Woman; Crazy Little Woman; I Aint Playing; Slipping Away; Right Time for Good-Bye.
Personnel: Jim Gustin: vocals, guitar; Truth Jones: vocals; Terry Wilson: bass; Teresa James: background vocals; Steve Alterman: keys; Herman Mathews: drums.