Tony Holiday – Motel Mississippi
This 8-track collection is a nice humid swampy collection of tunes recorded in Mississippi. It’s Tony’s second solo CD. Twenty-five minutes of melodies fall somewhere between Paul Butterfield, Tony Joe White & J.J. Cale. A nice mix of hypnotic bluesy soul-driven tales with lots of authenticities. Holiday’s vocal is juke joint qualified. Goes well with a cold foamy beer & a blue ring Acid cigar.
There’s a Robert Johnson primitive Texas hotel feel to the recording. Maybe it was intended. Holiday managed to have Jim Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch studios capture a rawness that infuses each tune with gutsiness & though there are times the recording projects a muddiness it only makes it sound more genuine. The harmonica, organ & bass really benefit from this peculiar attractive bearing.
The rollicking “Just As Gone,” is soaked in old whiskey — it gets stronger as goes deeper down into your ears. Tony Holiday (vocals/harmonica) doesn’t do anything new or different with this music he just personalizes it with varied flavors & embellishes each with his sometimes Kim Wilson tone with a Mason Ruffner-type guitar riff. A cool combination. It keeps a traditional blues shape equally tied to a mainstream presentation which allows the tunes to attract new, uninitiated young ears.
Produced by A.J. Fullerton (guitar/banjo) & Dave Gross (guitar/accordion/keys/percussion/backing vocals/Moog synth). Motel Mississippi (Drops April 14–Forty Below Records) provides the listener with some bluesy & tasteful guitar licks decorated by an atmospheric blend of the basics mixed with years gone by. There are nostalgic moments, but Holiday has a grasp on the style & what’s old is new again.
I find snippets of Elvin Bishop & Boz Scaggs in the performance with a Fabulous Thunderbirds sweetener. It makes for an interesting dip into the deep side of the blues pool. “Rob and Steal” has a jungle drum beat with a syrupy blues guitar, excellent backup vocals & snaky guitar fills & Holiday’s well-conjured blues vocal never gets overly dramatic. His voice has all the tonality needed to be convincing.
You would think we’ve heard every which way to sing the blues, but someone always manages to discover a refined, effective & satisfying way to reintroduce it. Tony Holiday has. There’s some crime, trouble & hardship in the songs but — no murders, poisoned liquor, howling at the moon, kneeling before the porcelain throne, or being so lonely you sleep in the graveyard for companionship. This has a more optimistic melodic blues edge.
“Am” closes the CD instrumentally with a Cajun-zydeco-type melody that concludes the set quite nicely.
Musicians – Aubrey McCrady (guitar), Victor Wainwright (keys), Terrence Grayson (bass), Lee Williams, Jr., (drums), Mikey Junior (backup vocals) & Jake Friel (harmonica).
Highlights – “Rob & Steal,” “Get By,” “Trouble,” “She’s So Cold” “Just As Gone” & “Am.”
Color image courtesy of Tony’s website. CD @ https://fortybelowrecords.com/store/p/motel-mississippi-tony-holiday & https://tonyholidaymusic.com/