REVIEW: Jeff Healey’s “Heal My Soul” and “Holding On” is Always Striking

Reviews

Jeff Healey – Heal My Soul: 2CD Deluxe Edition – Includes LP Holding On

Released originally on what would’ve been Jeff’s 50th birthday (2016) “Heal My Soul,” is the “lost album” of 12 previously unreleased songs recorded between 1996-8. Shelved to restore the tracks digitally.

Grammy nominee & JUNO Award winner Jeff Healey, who died in 2008 wrote these during a tumultuous period. “Holding On,” was intended as a companion LP (5 additional studio songs & 10 Oslo, Norway live tracks). Veteran guitarist Pat Rush plays with Jeff & on the live shows Jeff introduces the musicians by name.

Jeff Healey – Heal My Soul & Holding On: 2CD Deluxe Edition (drops May 22 – Eagle Rock) fires off with a “devil is in my shoes again,” on “Daze of the Night.” Blues with cowbell, heavy 70s type drums like Corky Laing with Mountain. The guitars whine & bite. The sound’s a bit muddy at times but that’s the charm.

“Moodswing,” melodically is a good blues but drop the early effects. Leave that to Edgar Winter. Played bluesy, Healey adds a soulful groove. Tight & delicious. “Baby Blue” has more acoustic & electric guitar though the vocals are more strained, & gritty. It’s more contemporary than blues-based.

“I Misunderstood,” has atmosphere & drive. “Please,” is loaded with Jimi Hendrix-type wah-wah & vocals. However, 5 tracks in & these aren’t reminiscent of the earlier classic Jeff Healey. It’s Jeff experimenting, pushing boundaries. I can understand why a record company might decline interest.

The playing is always striking. Excellent work. The vocals? Hard to decipher at times on “Please.” It could’ve been exciting. “Love in Her Eyes” continues in a Hendrix vein. But while Hendrix’s narrative style would work Healey’s Paul Rodgers’ style is flat. Excellent guitar & drums maintain quality.

“Temptation,” is fiery. This is a monster track. Nothing more to say.

Disc 1 has 12 tracks – interesting & average despite the lack of anything memorable like Jeff’s earlier LPs. Healey does provide incredible lead licks consistently. He’s far better vocally on songs with muscle. For an LP recorded in the 2000’s it’s distinctive in a 70s Bad Company blues tradition. Fortunately, his songs sting more than Bad Company. “Put the Shoe on the Other Foot” has a blistering guitar to recommend it.

Disc 2 is 15-tracks. “Every Other Guy,” could’ve been a hit as it maintains a bluesy punch that is commercial enough. “Dancing with the Monsters” is gritty & potent. A cut a veteran bluesman in a juke joint would do. What I find is that Jeff’s clever enough to start each song with a different edge. Nothing’s stale. There’s no sameness. He’s diversified & consistent. “All That I Believe,” is the most hard-push melodic tune. It grinds with energy, the drums thud in the belly.

Live cuts 6-15 have clarity, excitement & performance dynamics faithful of Jeff in concert. “Dust My Broom,” – it can’t be said a white man can’t sing the blues if you’re a Jeff Healey.

The classic disciplined “I Think I Love You Too Much,” is a highlight. Straight vocal lines answered by blues guitar & it all sparkles. His playing never spills into showboating but as proficient guitar skill. Jeff turns The Beatles’ “Yer Blues,” into an authentic slinky blues & his slide cries. Jeff Healey fans won’t be disappointed. The energy’s in abundance. Healey’s guitar never fails him.

Produced by Roger Costa the LP is available at Jeff’s website.

Website: https://jeffhealey.com/

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