Boston may seem an unlikely source for a blues band. It’s certainly not the first location you think of when you think about the blues. However, on the new album Lonely Soul (Colemine Records), Matthew Stubbs (Charlie Musselwhite’s longtime guitarist) and Pat Faherty of GA-20 show that you don’t need southern roots to play the blues.
When you press play on this album, you are greeted with “Naggin’ on My Mind”. Something is immediately striking about this album. The sound is akin to old blues guys like Junior Wells. The qualifier is that it sounds like something Junior Wells would have done if he ever recorded with Fat Possum. On the one hand, the sound is very much an old-time blues sound – particularly with Charlie Musselwhite on the harmonica and Luther Dickinson on the slide guitar. On the other hand, there is enough fuzz on the guitar sound to give it a garage-rock feel.
It’s pretty clear that this is a band with a connection to a variety of old-time blues artists. Between the beat and the guitar, “One Night Man” is a pretty convincing impression of a John Lee Hooker boogie.
The band also proves that it can play the blues low and slow. “Happy Today” is a slow, groovy tune where the rhythm guitar mimics a walking bass line and Chris Anzalone’s beat is hypnotic. “Crackin’ Up” is another good slow tempo tune. This moody song leans more toward a soul sound. The lyrics tell the story of a man who cooks and does laundry for his woman, but she howls about where he he’s been and how he spends his money.
The album closes with “Lonely Soul”, and you know from the scream at the beginning that it’s going to be a worthwhile song. The rhythm guitar sounds a lot like the piano part in “What’d I Say?” by Ray Charles. Meanwhile the drummer adds a beat that is pure garage rock. This would have worked just as well as the opening track, but it’s a great closer.
This is an interesting album because GA-20 produces a traditional blues sound with a modern-rock twist. It’s true that this isn’t your grandpa’s blues album, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. You can get down with this just like you can with any classic blues artist. Lonely Soul (Karma Chief Records) will be available everywhere on October 18. Order your copy here.
1 thought on “REVIEW: GA-20 Adds a Rock Twist to Traditional Blues on ‘Lonely Soul’”
Matt Stubbs & GA-20 are a great live band as well. I got to see them a few weeks back at the American Legion in Newton, MA where they put on a stellar show. Make sure to check them out when they come to your area!!!