Casey James: Strip It Down

Texas guitarist Casey James made a name for himself as an American Idol finalist, but he doesn’t need that monicker to impress you on this blues rocker of an album. He teams up with the tight unit of Ron McNelley/g, Kevin McKendree/key, Tommy MacDonald/b and Tom Hambridge/dr along with cameos by the Muscle Shoals horn team for a rich and rootsy session.

The team gets swampy on the soulful “Hard Times, Heartaches and Scars” and stomps out the blues on “Supernatural.” Some delta blues have James’ guitar cry on “Hurt No More, and the team gives a Crescent City boogaloo on “I Got To Go.” A vocal teaming with “Bulletproofe” gives some torrid shuffling, and McKendree’s piano delivers a hip two stepper on “Makin’ Up.” James  himself has a great snarl to his voice, and his own guitar work sizzles on the growling “Messin’ Around” and smoky title track. Put this along side your Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shephard discs!

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