Review: Jason Ricci and New Blood -Done With The Devil

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 25, 2009

Jason Ricci

JASON RICCI & NEW BLOOD

“Done With The Devil”

(Eclecto Groove Records: EGRCD505)

Following on from the 2007 breakthrough release, the excellent “Rocket Number Nine”, the Portland, Maine born, Nashville based Jason Ricci, together with his band New Blood, has released the fine follow-up, “Done With The Devil”, again on Eclecto Groove Records, this time with Phillip Wolfe in the production chair.

As with the last album Ricci’s space-age harmonica is hard to pigeon-hole, as the 12 tracks veer into all sorts of genre’s – from blues to rock to funk, a touch of soul and more. Shawn Starski’s sparkling guitar work is the perfect foil for Ricci, with the core of the band comprising the rhythm section of Todd ‘Buck Weed’ Edmunds on bass, and Ed Michaels on drums.

The album kicks off with a pretty straight blues in the shape of the title cut, “Done With The Devil” – a driving riff from Starski before Jason Ricci’s harmonica echoes the guitar, with the following “Sweet Loving” being firmly in soulful territory – in fact, an almost Motown feel. “Holler For Craig Lawler” rides on a heavy funk groove, with producer Phillip Wolfe adding some fine Hammond organ.

The pace shifts for the jazzy “Broken Toy”, with Ricci starting the song with gorgeous chromatic harmonica, before switching to diatonic – and an inspiring guitar solo from Shawn Starski.  To show the variety of this release, “I Turned Into A Martian” is a full-tilt punk rock tune, written by Glenn Danzig – three minutes of mayhem! The band lay down a nice slow-to-mid tempo blues on Willie Dixon’s “As Long As I Have You”, again embellished by Wolfe’s Hammond, and fine work again from Ricci and Starski.

Shawn Starski’s “How It Came To Be” features him on lead vocals and acoustic Dobro with the rhythm section of Edmunds and Michaels stripped down to give an almost rockabilly-meets-country blues feel. “Life Of Denial” is another standout, the congas and percussion of Rudy Miller giving it a Latin groove, with driving guitar from Starski and gritty vocal from Ricci, with superb harmonica.

The nine minutes of the instrumental “Afro Blue” again shows the virtuosity of the band – mainly a showcase for Jason Ricci’s harmonica which truly takes off on this track. Drummer Ed Michaels takes a lead vocal on his self-penned blues, “Keep The Wolf From My Door” – I think it’s fair to say, inspired by the late, great Howlin’ Wolf, with that lowdown feel and ensemble backing vocals from the whole band and more!

Not many bands who play the blues circuit would end an album with a Sun Ra tune, but Ricci is never afraid to take a chance and “Enlightenment” sees him on chord & diatronic and polyphonia harmonicas in another masterful performance, and fine guitar work again from Starski, with Phillip Wolfe this time on accordion and slide guitar – hard to describe this track – maybe a mix of a space tune and a Russian polka!

Jason Ricci is without doubt one of the most adventurous musicians about and some may find his veering through so many genres a bit off-putting, but there is no doubting his talent and musical virtuosity – and with his sidekick Shawn Staski – seems destined to be around for a long, long time!

 GRAHAME RHODES

www.jasonricci.com

www.myspace.com/jasonricciandnewblood

www.eclectogroove.com

Jason Ricci

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