Though their new album is our introduction to Simo, it is noticeable that the striking craft and potent tones of vocalist/guitarist JD Simo seem to be the main focus of attention with a great many. As proven by the compelling Love Show The Way, the Nashville based band is so much more though. From the magnetically roving bass grooves of Elad Shapiro and the tenacious enterprise of drummer Adam Abrashoff to the evocative songwriting and its fiery realisation, Simo is one potent unit made up of creatively integral parts.
It is fair to say though that JD Simo, a musician begging his parents for a guitar at the age of five and regularly playing bars backed by older musicians by 10 years old, is a mighty lure to the Joe Bonamassa favourite’s fusion of blues, southern rock, and classic R&B with jazz fuelled enterprise. The background to Let Love Show The Way is in itself as alluring also. Recorded at Macon, Georgia’s Big House, the communal home of the Allman Brothers Band during their late sixties/early seventies heyday, what we hear in ears was not the proposition planned for the first album to be recoded at the famous site. Heading into the recording, Simo has a whole different set of tracks primed for the release with the visit primarily to record a couple of bonus tracks for the album. With engineer Nick Worley involved too, band and passion “caught fire” in the inspirational surroundings with a dozen tracks being burnt down in less than 48 hours; songs spawned with raw and electrifying intensity that inspired the band to change direction and go with what organically grew there and then. JD himself summed up the moment, “As the producer of the project, I couldn’t live with myself if we didn’t use these songs, I just felt it was better than anything the band had ever captured so we decided to scrap the original record and build this new one around everything we recorded at the Big House.”
With each track recorded live in complete takes and without any edits, Let Love Show the Way quickly grips attention with opener Stranger Blues, a cover of the Elmore James classic. Shimmering into view, the song is soon eagerly dancing in ears, riffs and rhythms a feisty shuffle whilst grooves as good as flirt from Duane Allman’s 1957 gold-top Les Paul which JD played on every song within the album. It is a sizzling lure of a start which only strengthens as Two Timin’ Woman offers its own bluesy flame guided by the enjoyably unpredictable and dynamic rhythms of Abrashoff as well as the dark tempting of Shapiro’s bass.
An even rawer edge lines the scuzzy lure of Can’t Say Her Name next whilst I Lied has a rough psych rock air to its grouchily infectious proposal; both tracks riveting weaves of vocal prowess and heart linked to skittish rhythms and slightly antagonistic riffs bound in searing tendrils of blues imagination. The second of the pair is especially flavoursome and irresistibly imposing before the lovely and mischievous rock ‘n’ roll of Please has body and emotions stomping around like a teen with its catchy slice of blues rock.
The Celtic spiced Long May You Sail is another instantly stirring the imagination with its adventurously individual escapade whilst I’ll Always Be Around sighs, pulsates, and rumbles with magnetic southern blues melancholy before Becky’s Last Occupation writhes and swings within its groove infested fire to re-ignite the physical side of the body after its emotion feeding predecessor. Each of the trio creates tapestries of chaotic adventure and surprising twists which sublimely and dynamically unite for inescapable temptation.
The heated sounds keep ears fired up as I’d Rather Die In Vain explores a jazz lined web of sonic imagination and experimental invention matched by a dynamic rhythmic punch. The track is a glorious off-kilter incitement leaving the senses and imagination enflamed and then gentle seduced by the acoustic instrumental grace of Today I Am Here.
With a great trio of bonus tracks in the outstanding Let Love Show The Way, the fiercely sultry Ain’t Doin’ Nothin’, and the provocatively crooning Please Be With Me completing the CD and digital versions of the album, Let Love Show The Way leaves enjoyment eagerly flowing. As Simo lives up to all the potent praise and declarations heard before music touched ears, theirs is an album with the inclination to please any rock ‘n’ roll fan let alone those with an appetite for the blues,
Let Love Show The Way is released January 29th via Provogue Records/ Mascot Label Group @ http://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/simo-letloveshowtheway-cd.html
Pete RingMaster 29/01/2016
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