Sweet Undertow – Skeletone Machine
This effort is by another well-played blues guitarist with elementary lyrics at the start going through the vintage motions. There are nevertheless some good grooves produced if you get through the wrapping to the good stuff. Interesting asides salvage Sweet Undertow (acoustic/electric guitars/vocals) & he’s worth a listen. Eddy Undertow displays finesse in lieu of constantly showboating like so many of this ilk do – but he’s closer in feel to the late Jeff Healy than say, B.B. King.
“Flame,” is distinctive. An attempt is made to escape the cliches of the blues genre & its limited chord progressions. Lyrically, “I’m wearing dimes on my eyes…” “Pearl-handled, an iron rose, you’re the queen of forever road.” Passable lyrical efforts for the blues & it begins to surface though at times laid on thick. This song is well-arranged & that’s what makes it interesting. Undertow never overplays his hand – he accentuates nicely with his lead guitar & has some nicely sauteed tunes.
There’s enough music here to keep listeners & blues aficionados engaged. Eddy’s gritty Steve Earle raw vocals sound authentic enough. Slashes of violin add a nice touch & good backing vocals. The lines in the lyrics get better but do need work & in some spots, an Allman Brothers Band-type inspired moments.
Produced in CA by Jim Semitekol (electric/high-strung guitar) & Eddy Undertow, the 40-minute, 10-track Skeletone Machine (Drops September 16–Mother West) finds Eddy as adept with an acoustic guitar as an electric & manages to keep the pilot light on his musical stove lit with a blue flame.
Eddy sings with an expressive voice & the violin works well on “Shakedown In the Street,” (a little too close title-wise to the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” for my taste). The tone of this song could go south to Atlanta in a southern rock style or strictly north into a Detroit blues club basement to cook on a low flame.
Eddy goes into a black tradition on “Soft, Soft Sea,” which could easily be sung on the streets of Memphis in the 1930s with that tone & approach. Beautifully rendered. If only kids appreciated this kind of music in 2022.
Nice color image of a piano adorned in greenery on the front panel of the CD, but it doesn’t feature much rollicking upright piano. Rafael Costas & Max Cowan pianos are evident when they do grace some songs. I like Sweet Undertow – he’s got grit in his blues but needs a pinch more creativity in his execution.
Musicians – Dave Tavel (drums/percussion), John Eckstrom (bass), Max Cowan (piano/Hammond organ), Rafael Costas (piano), Annie Bacon, Joshua Cook (additional vocals), Steve Benzian (pedal steel guitar), Hannah Glass, Scott Krenitski (violins), Bruce Jenett (harmonica), Eddy, Jim, John Murray III & Joanne Semitekol (handclaps).
Color image by Daniel Clayton. CD @ http://www.sweetundertow.com/