This is going to be a unique review because I am personally featured as a guest guitar player on this album. However, that gives me some unique insight into the artist and their methodology, which (hopefully) will allow me to add some detail that would otherwise not be attainable in the average analysis.
The new album is “Blues Power” by Jeff Dale and The South Woodlawners. The South Woodlawners are a Southside Chicago reference to the old digs that Jeff grew up in. Jeff’s been around for decades, and has recorded and resided in both Chicago and Los Angeles. In short, over many releases and while being a longtime fan of Jeff Dale’s songs, I truly feel this latest effort is by far his greatest work.
“Blues Power” is produced by Marvin Etzioni, an acclaimed musician and producer in his own right. This is in addition to Jeff’s credentials (musical director and guitar player for Honeyboy Edwards, Lowell Fulson, Long Gone Miles, among others), and many other decorated players, including Lee Loughnane of Chicago, members of Buddy Guy’s backing band, James Cotton’s backing band, the first chair cellist of the L.A. Opera, and yes, touring rock band Hunter & The Dirty Jacks (that’s where I come in).
On to the music. “One Step From A Broken Man” has a storyline that speaks for itself, that is very relatable. That’s the great thing about Jeff’s songs – they are often very accessible and adaptable — many times with humor involved — but this song isn’t that. The cello is featured, and it makes a strong impact. Well placed. Excellent production choice. “Best Kind of Trouble” is classic Dale – mischievous, funny, and straight up Chicago-style blues. Leadoff track “Toxic Stew” has an intoxicating riff that pulsates and lends itself well live to long jams.
Regarding the Hunter & The Dirty Jacks-backed songs, they include “Let’s Buzz,” “Undercover Man,” and “Black Crow.” “Black Crow” is one of my favorite tracks I’ve ever recorded, with an very raw, back-porch style. I remember us all gathered around one mic in the room. Totally unorthodox. I felt like I got a lesson from Jeff that he learned from Honeyboy Edwards’ Mississippi Delta days. Pretty priceless. I love Jeff’s solo on “Undercover Man.” Jeff creates a very relaxed, fun, but yet down-to-sho-bidness respect of the music vibe in the studio. He’s amazing to work with, and his wealth of knowledge of the blues is something that can’t be recreated – it’s his actual journey.
Do yourself a favor, get Jeff Dale’s newest album, pour a glass of Crown Royal (Jeff’s choice), and go have yourself a natural ball.
— Jon Siembieda
- Jeff Dale
Released: July 12, 2019