Hamilton Loomis,
Ain't Just Temporary
(Blind Pig, 2007)

Instead of simply cranking out 12-bar blues tunes, Hamilton Loomis is out to extend the form, carrying traditional electric blues into contemporary soul and rock. The man knows his blues. Born and raised in Galveston, Texas, he learned guitar, harmonica, bass, keyboards and drums early on. While working in the family doo-wop group, he met Bo Diddley and wound up, at the age of 16, playing onstage with the legend. This meeting led to a friendship, which resulted in Loomis learning from the master -- and other masters such as Johnny Copeland, Gatemouth Brown and Albert Collins. Let's face it, Loomis is well schooled.

He doesn't play like a student, though. His songs, which feature catchy tunes and off-beat rhyme schemes, are approached loosely, casually. Loomis multitracks, playing guitar, bass and keyboards on most of the pieces while occasionally adding drum parts. On the three or four songs on which he plays all the instruments, the results can be a touch mechanical; you miss the energy and interplay of a good band cooking together.

The songs are good. Loomis's tunes go in unanticipated directions, so that their structure never bores, and his musical approach harkens back to 1960s and '70s soul and R&B. The album is dedicated to James Brown -- you hear Brown singing many of the tunes here; "Slow Lover" and "Good Enough" could have been written for him.

Then Bo Diddley shows up and things get cranked up a couple of notches. Loomis is smart enough to give the track over to Bo, and Bo is devoted enough to his disciple to allow him to shine. "You Got to Wait," a paean to slow and thorough loving, which Diddley and Loomis do together, is in itself worth the price of the CD.

Loomis is young, not much more than 30, but he's already a mature performer. It might take a while but, rather than being confined to blues crowds, he will cross over to a wide popular audience. This guy's going to be big.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

25 August 2007

what's new