REVIEW: Boz Scaggs’ “Out of the Blues” Retains Old School Feel

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Boz Scaggs has a new release, Out of the Blues (Concord Records).  As a musically-inclined youngster, my first exposure to Boz Scaggs was seeing the dusty album cover (Hits!, perhaps?) in one of those wooden cassette crates (remember those?) Even then, it seemed “old” to me. Now, of course, we’d call it “classic,” and Scaggs’ new music retains that old-school feel, along with some latter-day lyrical twists.

The album kicks off with the bluesy “Rock and Stick”, an ode to secret love – “Don’t want to hurt ya’ baby/Wanna use you for my friend” – sung in Scagg’s memorable falsetto. The bulk of the album, really, is a catalog of bad, busted and broken love. “I’ve Just Got To Forget About You” makes the effort to leave a no-good woman – “One day I’ll find/Someone on down the line/To help me forget about you” – in ¾ time. “I’ve Just Got To Know” asks, “Why do you always play around,” backed by fantastic guitar work from the legendary Charlie Sexton. And erstwhile Ghostbuster Ray Parker brings his guitar to several tracks, the best of which, “The Feeling Is Gone”, closes the album with a big-band feel and features trade-offs between Parker, Eric Crystal on tenor sax and Jim Cox on piano, while Scaggs informs his lady love, “I’m standing here to tell you that the feeling is gone.”

Most of the songs clock in at four minutes and under, bemoan lost love and reference technology no longer in its salad days – radiators, incubators and even an answering machine (really). The two longer songs on the album, though, bring something a little newer out of Boz: “LIttle Miss Night and Day” (Scagg’s only co-writing credit on the album), boasts a familiar but potent rockabilly stomp, a piano and guitar duel (Cox and Parker again), and a healthy dose of 2018 sexual innuendo – “She can roll with you buddy, she can roll with you girl.” She keeps it fresh by being fresh. In sharp contrast, the Neil Young-penned “On The Beach” mixes introspection and introversion: “Though my problems are meaningless/That don’t make them go away.” And, speaking to today’s world, all is not well – the song begins and ends with the plaintive, “The world is turning/Hope it’s not turning away.”

Produced by Scaggs (along with Chris Tabarez and J Michael Rodriguez) and mastered by Richard Dodd, Out Of The Blues spotlights a bevy of outstanding musicians, including Jim Keltner (drums), Willie Weeks (bass), and Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), along with horns from Crystal, Thomas Politzer and Doc Kupka. And while the words may spring from many pens (J Walroth, Bobby Blue Bland, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, and Deadric Malone), the retro sound and feel are vintage Boz.  Get yours, here.    http://www.bozscaggs.com/

 

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