Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne,
Let it Loose
(Electro-Fi, 2005)

Blues-loving folks who love boogie-woogie piano will love this album of 13 traditional-styled original songs (10 written by Wayne). This well-rounded album contains songs with wine-soaked sadness, jazzy blues and boogie-woogie jukes that show all aspects of a piano man's life.

The bluesy "Wishing Well" is fueled with regret, as is "Bewildered." Both tenderly drive home the inability to turn back time after one has left -- or been left by -- a good woman. "I Never Will Forgive You" has the same regret, but is more jaunty, perhaps because this time the song's narrator is more angry than wistful because some women can make one's "bright sunny day turn to cloudy and gray."

Other songs include "Blue & Lonesome," where a moody sax and pleading lyrics are the only things that accompany the lonesome vocalist whose baby has run off. In "Let Me Go Home Whiskey," with its barbershop harmonies, the vocalist pleads not to a woman but to something just as bad, and perhaps more enticing: whiskey. He's "got orders from his baby not to come home juiced no more" but the liquor won't let him loose.

"Blackberry Wine" shows the better, happier side of being juiced, and "Let It Loose," the title track, is all about letting sorrows go, letting the evils of the world slide: "Don't you worry about it now, shake it and let it loose." A dance, a party, good music can keep the troubles away for a while. Plus, it comes with neat saxophone and drums.

The tough-talking in "Mean Streak" shows that men don't only have trouble with women and whiskey but with other men -- because of women, and drink. ("I can roll my heels up and strut like a lightning storm.") Another song where men talk to each other about life and love is "Be a Man," where Papa and Mama encourage their son to "see the world" and "plan his life." A driving, loving tune that is hopeful and sweetly inspiring without being preachy. Loved it.

The sheer danceability of the joyous "Joogie to the Boogie" got my shoulders jumping. Oh, that Cab Calloway were here to dance with me! "Blues Carry Me Home" is the last song on the album. Both nostalgic and spiritual, it shows the power of music to heal, comfort and inspire. It could be used as a homegoing song in both the earthly and churchy sense.

Musicians on this album are Kenny Wayne on piano/keyboards and vocals, Russell Jackson on electric bass, Brandon Isaak and Clifford Dunn on guitars, Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl on harmonica, Pat Carey and Steve Hilliam on saxophone, and Darrell Mayes, Henry Avery and Theo Brown on drums.

Kick your heels high and enjoy this great album that falls in line with the great piano blues tradition. Highly recommended.

by Carole McDonnell
10 December 2005

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