Roomful of Blues,
Watch You When You Go
(Rounder/Bullseye, 2001)

Watch You When You Go is a hard-edged, rock-flavored blues album. I like the style, and Roomful of Blues has here given us a good example of it. The album's not a long one, with only ten tracks, but it's solid and very enjoyable.

I particularly liked "Where's Bubba" with its heavy use of horns. It's the one instrumental on the album, and I loved the jazz-like conversations between the horns, and with the piano. There are elements of swing here, too, and the elegantly blended synthesis of styles is wonderful.

I do like Mac Odom's voice; it's well-suited for the songs he sings here. And they're good songs, ones that will get your head nodding and toes tapping. The arrangements are good, too -- so I'm not sure why there seems to be something lacking in the album as a whole. To me, it seems to lack a spark, that extra something that propels music from good to great. Perhaps it's that, while the songs are very well-done, they come across more as blues set-pieces than as cries from the heart. I think the sheer competence of all the pieces adds to that impression; it sounds far more well-rehearsed and -produced than passionate -- and that's not what I want to hear in blues.

This could well be a studio thing; it would certainly not be the first time that a group that's exciting live doesn't quite capture that life in a recording. I'd like to hear them perform, and I'm sure they offer a great show.

The liner notes are fine, consisting mostly of the lyrics to the songs and in a layout that can be read easily, which is nice.

While this is a good album, it's not a great one -- a shame, since Roomful of Blues sounds very capable of producing a great album! It's very enjoyable, even so, and fans of rocking blues will like it. It's gotten me interested in hearing them live, where the studio polish might be rubbed a bit thin.

[ by Amanda Fisher ]
Rambles: 3 November 2001



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