Back Pack Jones

Back Pack Jones
Betsy’s Kitchen

Self Release

By Georgetown Fats
September 2014

Due to the volume of material the Boston Blues Society receives on a weekly basis, there are times when it is just impossible to get to material before it drops. Given the timeliness of blues music, we still review on the backside of a release date, which can be a good or sometimes a bad thing. With Back Pack Jones, it is hard not to think the band probably appreciates the fact the BBS didn’t meet its self-imposed goal.

Kicking off Betsy’s Kitchen with the “Riptide Baby” number, it is hard not to source out the problem right from the get-go. It may be the recorded environment, or the band trying to undersell the material, but “Riptide Baby” sounds restrained to the point of a producer attempting to cram all of the decrescendos and crescendos within the song into a back pack. Everything is delivered at one intensity level, which flattens out the overall song.

On “Baggage” vocalist Michael “Big Mike” Wallace delivers some competent vocals, again showing more restraint than power, but there is some proof here he is no joke. Unfortunately with the arrangement of the tune what could have been an exceptional up-tempo funk gets waylaid by the the two guitar solo sections and the swapping of eighths between guitarist Kirk Lonborn and keyboardist Wendell Day. I can’t help but feel I’ve heard this all before in different band iterations.

And finally on “Even God Sings The Blues” guitarist Lonborn elevates himself to vocalist Wallace’s level with some fairly inspired guitar work, but the heavy emphasis on the tired blues idiom is just lazy.

I am not sure what is being cooked up in Betsy’s Kitchen but if this is the work I am to expect from Back Pack Jones, I won’t be dining at Betsy’s Kitchen again.

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