Review: Andres Roots – Roundabout

Posted on: Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011

(Roots Art Records – RAR1004)

Estonian writer and guitarist, Andres Roots, has issued this fine solo release, with the band he was a member of, Bullfrog Brown, now on hold. Based in Tartu, in his native Estonia, the album was recorded in the White Room studio, and features 12 self-penned tracks in a variety of rootsy styles, with help from a huge bunch of friends, including Eric Gebhardt, Bottleneck John, Dave Arcari and Black River Bluesman.

The two singles released, “Redecoration Day” and “Thru The Valley”, both gained considerable acclaim, and are present and correct here. The short opening instrumental, just 1:19,  “Duck Soup” sees Roots on a one-string diddley bow, with Uku Puttsepp on alto recorder and drums . . . giving the tune a somewhat Middle Eastern feel; the following “Lemon Days” is a bluesy affair with vocal from American Eric Gebhardt, some sweet harmonica from Finland’s Jantso Jokelin and Andres Roots nice slide work.

Glaswegian bluesman Dave Arcari contributes a trademark growling vocal to the menacing “Southern Sky”, with Jokelin’s harmonica featuring prominently again – a standout for me this track. The delicate “Shades” has another guest contribution, with Sweden’s Bottleneck John taking the lead vocal, with more appealing guitar work from Andres Roots on slide and rhythm. Gebhardt sings the driving blues of “Flowers”, powered by a fuzzy electric slide riff, with Uku Puttsepp on trumpet – fine stuff indeed!

Dave Arcari’s second appearance comes on “Dead Man Stomp”, probably the first time he’s been on a track with viola, courtesy of Hanno Maadra, and some wry lyrics from Roots. The two afore-mentioned singles then appear back-to-back, with vocals respectively from Eric Gebhardt and Bottleneck John – Uku Puttsepp on fine trumpet on the former, and Roots delicate fingerpicked guitar on the latter, and didgeridoo from fellow Estonian, Raul Terep.

The folky blues of “Homesick Sam” is another gem, a simple tune with Gebhardt on vocal and Roots slippery Dobro work, the tune gathering pace as it progresses. The thumping “Watcha Do” sees a guest apperance from Finland’s Black River Bluesman on vocals and cigar-box baritone guitar with a nice thick tone to drive the song, fellow countryman Bad Mood Hudson on drums here.

This thoroughly enjoyable collection ends with Roots and Gebhardt together on the rolling country blues of “Stick With You”, given a honky-tonk edge by Ahti Bachblum’s really nice piano and the simple drums of Kalle Kindel – a sweet ending to a really recommended release from a most talented guy, and more evidence of the calibre of some European musicians.


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