Jim Suhler,
Panther Burn
(Underworldindie, 2014)

Jim Suhler, a Dallas-based blues guitarist, has two active careers going -- one as George Thorogood's lead guitarist and another as the leader of his own band. Panther Burn, of course, shows him as a leader and serves as a pretty good showcase.

As the lead guitarist and singer in his own band, he favors traditional electric blues; you can hear Howling Wolf in his arrangements, while Stevie Ray Vaughn influences a lot of his guitar playing, along with a touch of Magic Sam. Counting influences is not to say that Suhler is aping other players, though; he is very much his own man, bringing his own ideas and creations to a traditional form, so that his music is a mixture of the old and the new, rich in its adherence to tradition, made new by his contributions.

His song "I See You," for example, is driven by the traditional guitar, bass and drums, but Suhler adds a cigar box and an accordion to the mix, making it sound more downhome Texas than Chicago. Touches like this dress most of the songs. On "Across the Brazos" the guitar and an organ solo together, stating and answering each other in a move that wouldn't be out of place on an old Animals cut from the '60s. "Remember Mama" begins with a couple of minutes of slow riffing on the guitar and organ, then the tempo rises and the tune calms down as the bass and drums enter and finally the vocals come in to build a totality of the ingredients we've been introduced to. It's a fine song that'll spend a lot of time in your player.

The fact is, this guy is good. Listening to him is like finding a favorite painting in a beautiful new frame -- familiar and strikingly new at the same time.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

29 March 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new