REVIEW: The 40 Acre Mule’s “Good Night & Good Luck” is Heartfelt Stomp Rock


The 40 Acre Mule is J. Isaiah Evans (guitar & vocals), Robert Anderson (drums), Tim Cooper (bass), Chris Evetts (baritone sax & percussion), and John Pedigo (guitar & vocals). This quintet blends country, soul, and blues seamlessly in a self-described Rhythm & Blues Outfit. Following a map drawn by Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Ray Charles, 40 Acre Mule put their own twist on these well-worn roads.

Released on State Fair Records, the 40 Acre Mule’s new album, Good Night & Good Luck, welcomes the listener to the party with the grit and muscle of “You Better Run.”  Guitar, organ, and saxophone battle through a stomp rock haze of smoke and sweat. Lead singer J. Isaiah Evans’s howl evokes the frantic energy of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion as he sings, “you’d better run, and try to hide, I got…a loaded 45, heaven help you, if I find your ass alive.”

Dark tales follow on “16 Days” and “Shake Hands with The Devil,” a jailhouse rocker and a sax driven rave-up. “I just can’t do right since my baby done me wrong”; simple heartfelt lyrics whose meaning is imbued with the emotion of a blistering guitar attack populate 16 Days. On “Shake Hands with The Devil” we find ourselves at a riverside revival where turned away by a preacher who: “don’t know where you’re going, but I know where you’ve been,” and it’s not a good place. But, the preacher doesn’t have the final say, as Evans sings, “It’s true I’ve seen the hard times, and I know bad company, but what I do with my own damn life, that’s between my maker and me.”

Fuzzed out guitar drives “Make Up Your Mind,” while “Be With Me” slows the record’s pace with a punchy waltz accented by saxophone, blues guitar, and xylophone – an unusual but potent mix. “Pick Up the Phone” is a traditional blues rock beggar with an extra helping of umph and a big rev-up finale; “baby, please come on home, you been gone from my bed for oh so very long, and I know it was me, but if you come on home I know you’re gonna see, I’ve been something next to nothing ever since the day you were gone.”

The soul review rev-up continues on “I’ll Be Around.” Bass, congas, and tambourine drive this minimalist rocker while saxophone weaves in and out of the backbeat until the full band kicks in with a chunky guitar and thumping drum kit. Hat in Handeases off the pedal for a moment with a simply strummed intro before power ballad bigness kicks in. Another tale of a man’s freedom at odds with a woman’s heart, “a ring around my finger is like a rope around my neck, good girls they try, but I ain’t settled down yet, all I can do is hope that one day you’’ll see…it ain’t you babe it’s me,…(and) I’ll come back one day with my hat in my hands” sings Evans sincerely.

“Bathroom Walls,” however, offers less sincere lyrics take. A humorous slice of life on the road and one night stands that is solidly grounded in early rock-n-roll but with more subversive lyrics similar to modern day revivalist J.D. McPherson, “Bathroom Walls” is high point on an already great record. “Got myself together, headed out West, ran into some trouble in a little black dress, sat next to me at end the bar, twenty minutes later we were in my car, sweating and a grunting and rolling around, soon as we were done her feet hit the ground, I kind of like you baby, can I give you a call, she said sure thing sugar my number’s on the bathroom wall,” Evans sings with wit and sorrow blending in the alcohol soaked raver. Album closer Josephine finishes with the energy of a ’49 Ford on the open road. If you miss the days when Chuck Berry ruled the airwaves, then pick up Good Night & Good Luck from 40 Acre Mule and get your old school rock-n-roll fix today.



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