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Music Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears new album Scandalous

I'm just starting to shake myself out of a lifetime of subborn resistence to contemporary music, and in that process, I've discovered Black Joe Lewis. Other than hearing a few of his songs here and there, his new album "Scandalous" is my first prolonged exposure to this group.

For those who don't know, BJL draws on every variation of blues (Texas, Chicago, jump, etc.), a good deal of James Brown-style soul (lots of horns), with straight, old-fashioned guitar Rock n' Roll. Their sound is reminscent of (at times) James Brown, Sam n' Dave, Eric Clapton, Buckwheat Zydeco, and a souped-up Stevie Ray Vaughn, with each track taking on a different on a subtlely (sometimes not so subltely) different flavor.

In fact, the tracks on this album vary pretty widely from the up-tempo opener "Livin in the Jungle," to the slow and sultry "I'm gonna leave you." To the downright James Brown-ish "Booty City," to the Lenny Kravitz-ish title track "She's so scandalous," to the Delta Blues influenced "Messin," to "You been lying," with a riff that sounds eerily like The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Parallel Universe," to the track "Since I met you baby," which sounds straight out of southern Louisiana Zydeco.

BJL & the Honeybears display a wide range of musical talent on this album, however, the lyrics are pretty standard blues-fluenced stuff. "Baby, I'm gonna leave you," etc., etc., etc. And frankly, the music lacks innovation in any sense of the word. BJL seems like a band that's really, really good at copying many different variations of blues and soul, but I don't see anything here that advances music.

Having said all that, the album is really fun to listen to, and musicians don't have to be innovating all the time for them to be relevant. I definitely plan to look further into BJL's discography and see what else is there. Meantime, this album will stay on my CD player/computer for the immediate future.


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