One of the CDs that persisted in memory from last year was Mike Zito's Gone to Texas (here), not because it was so good, which it was, not because it strove to cut a swath to my waiting ears, which it did, but because it was so damned solid. I mean, that disc possessed its own gravity, it had weight and then some, muscle and sinew, and Jimmy Carpenter was the cat who kicked in the sax throughout. On his solo LP, though, he cleaves more to jazzy blues something like Al Basile's or Duke Robillard's, with a bit of E-Street Band (besides singing and playing rhythm guitar, Carpenter ever wields saxophones).
There's also a decent element of funk in various places, as in When You're Ready, blended with faint traces of Motown a la Booker T or The Wrecking Crew, upbeat soul fairly permeating the cut. She's Not You becomes an MOR balladic refrain, kinda plodding, while 7th Street Shuffle gets more serious, at first a down in the dumps lament instrumental that transforms to a kickier mode and gives the guy a lot of room to stretch his purely musical chops in a slow vein, B3 setting the stage before jumping into its own solo.
Hard to be Cool erupts by crashing the horns and band into a seawall before laying back into a slow-swing lament showing why the composer (Jimmy wrote everything here) has, in his own words, "way more passion than sense". All the tracks in fact reflect upon the women in his life…but his singing doesn't always support that passion, occupying only a very narrow range and not nearly as tutored as it should be. I think that's why the band also only reaches halfway to where it should. Those factors devitalize what should otherwise be non-stop kickin'. I'd recommend that his next album bring in professional singers so that he can direct his attentions fully to the instrumental side.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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