Georgie Bonds,
Hit It Hard
(Roadhouse Redemption, 2015)

Last year, Georgie Bonds teamed up with producer Neil Taylor to cut Stepping Into Time, a fine album of rhythm and blues that I was lucky enough to be able to review in these pages (13 December 2014) and which I loved. Now Bonds is back with Hit It Hard, again with Neil Taylor handling the production. The result is every bit as good as its predecessor.

Bonds has one of those Jimmy Witherspoon or Big Joe Turner voices, big, buoyant and honest, a husky, hard-won way of singing that gets at the truth of a song, so that when it ends you're as likely to think "That's the truth, that's honest," as you are "That was good." You'll also be impressed with the sheer joy Bonds gets out of the physical act of singing. He is as happy a singer as Mick Fleetwood is a drummer and if there's one thing that characterizes Fleetwood's drumming, it is the sheer delight that you feel in his work. You feel that same delight in Bonds' vocalizing. It's obvious that he loves the art of singing and is only too happy to share his love with an audience, either close up on a live show or more remotely, as on a CD.

I might be stretching here but Bonds says he has been through some serious health problems in the past year -- among the credits is a thank you to the doctor who performed his surgeries recently -- so it might be that his delight comes from the simple fact that he still well and able to perform.

Once again, he is teamed with Neil Taylor, who is his perfect musical partner. Taylor, who wrote a few of the songs on the disc and co-wrote others with Bonds, has a strong affinity for Bonds' vocals and knows how to cradle them in a strong horn and harmonica based arrangement. He accomplishes the difficult task of supporting Bonds, making him shine as an individual while also making sure he is part of a strong ensemble. Each song, instead of being shoehorned into a pre-existing blues structure, is allowed to find its own way, achieving a sort of organic form that renders it original and unique. The arrangements always suit the song and feature one of the tightest, cookingest bands around.

Hit It Hard does just that. It hits hard.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

7 November 2015

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