Jim Koeppel,
RSVP to Paradise
(Jongleur Records, 2016)

NewYork musician Jim Koeppel leads an acoustic blues band, the Delta Coasters, and an electric band, Dust My Blues, as well as playing solo gigs. A veteran of many bands -- he has been leading them in New York, Mississippi and Nashville since the 1980s -- before forming those two, Koeppel is one of those musicians who played in whatever combinations he could in order to make a living as a musician. All of that experience has made him the musician he is: a guitarist of range and skill and power, as well as a strong singer and a pretty good writer.

RSVP to Paradise, a five-song EP, is the latest fruit of his labors, and the biggest problem with it is that five songs are not nearly enough. You come away from it wanting more. Although billed as a solo album, nine outside musicians play on this release and, although he is a guitar master, Koeppel is wise enough to turn them loose. The major solos on the title song, for example, go to the saxes, with the guitar playing rhythm. Oh, Koeppel gets his solos in but he never tries to dominate.

He writes about the need to escape, as in "RSVP to Paradise," where the overwhelmed singer decides to give up his troubles and accept paradise into his life. Lost love is covered in the ballad "Every Night Without Warning," which closes with a jazzy trombone riff, and the joys and frustrations of eternal love are found in "Let Me Tell You," which has trading solos between the guitars and the harmonica.

This is good stuff. I'll close with advice for Jim Koeppel: next time, Jim, more.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

28 January 2017

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