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Southside Denny Snyder - Full Circle

Self Release

13 tracks - Total time: 53:33

This CD recently won Ontario, Canada’s Lys Blues “Album of the Year 2010” award. A listen readily shows why.

Snyder originally lived in South Bend, Indiana, but a few years ago moved to Montreal, Canada, which he finds most congenial. His youth was thus spent living near Chicago, which he visited regularly to hear the blues greats—among them Muddy Waters and J.B. Hutto. They moved him to master slide guitar.

But Southside Denny didn’t rest content with just the regular and slide electric blues guitar; he moved to master the acoustic blues guitar and jazz guitar as well. That shows all over Full Circle, with its interposition of electric and acoustic numbers, and vocals intermixed with instrumentals.

Full Circle was recorded at Montreal’s Second Avenue Studio All songs are originals written by Southside Denny Snyder, with two numbers co-written by him. The sleeve notes are bi-lingual, English and French. The opening track, Delta-style instrumental “Lazy Busy Blues,” was written by Denny with Rick L. Blues, who also plays harp on this track and on track 10, “Perfectionist Blues,” as well as providing background vocals on track 6, “Pays Cool,” a French-language vocal by Denny that was written in collaboration with Josée Larose. Denny’s young daughter Lorrie Snyder adds her vocal talents to her father’s on track 5, “Delirious Frank,” and track 7, “Strongest Man in the World,” a paean to that daily strength shown by the dutiful husband and father who looks after his family. Lindsay Pugh plays bass on the electric tracks, and contrebasse (as given in the notes) on “Delirious Frank,” while Simon Meilleur and Cliff Alloy add drums to the electric and electric-acoustic tracks, with Alloy providing African djembe percussion to track 2, “Steppin’ Up.” Rounding out the roster of musicians is Ivanhoe Jolicoeur, who plays trumpet and flugelhorn on “Delirious Frank.”

The 13 tracks on Full Circle divide into six instrumentals and seven vocals. Of the instrumental tracks, the first two are Delta-style acoustic slide guitar blues, the above-mentioned “Lazy Busy Blues” and “Steppin’ Up,” respectively. Rick L. Blues adds versatility with his harp playing on “Lazy Busy Blues,” working around the changes while spicing them up with difference. The other six acoustic instrumentals, track 8, “City Slicker;” track 9, “Lac Echo;” track 12, “Nothin’ Doin’;” and track 13, “P’tit Gars,” are original music expansions of blues-inflected roots music, similar to those roots-expanding instrumentals recorded by Northern Blues. Southside Denny Snyder’s acoustic and electric guitar playing consistently displays virtuosity and elegance without flash. Denny also combines slide and regular playing on the same song.

Complementing his guitar are his vocals and original songwriting. He learned well from the blues masters he first encountered while visiting Chicago, and has expanded his repertoire of influences to encompass modern blues-adapting songwriters such as Robert Cray and Bob Dylan. The three Chicago-based electric blues numbers are Cray-like: track 3, “I Got to Go,” on becoming better for getting away from it all for awhile; track 4, “Change Is Good,” a social commentary about change and flux; and track 10, “Perfectionist Blues,” which looks at both his woman, who is a perfectionist, and at himself as also stricken with perfectionism. The contemporary electric jazz vocal, “Story,” is Dylanesque in its use of strikingly unorthodox juxtaposition of ordinary words to give the song its surrealistic cast.

Lyrical uniqueness in a blues-derived context also characterizes “Delirious Frank” and “Strongest Man in the World.” “Delirious Frank” is an acoustic tale of a nasty miser set to the tune of “Minnie the Moocher.” The above-described “Strongest Man in the World” is another acoustic storytelling song that will remind one of Mississippi John Hurt in both its traditional melody and its direct storytelling. Rounding out the playlist is the autobiographical “Pays Cool,” an acoustic-electric blues sung almost entirely in French, with only the words “Northwest Indiana toward Chicago” and “blues” rendered in English, the sole clues to its autobiographical nature for the non-French understanding. Denny’s singing in French flows effortlessly, a reflection of his present living in a Montreal suburb where no one speaks English. Ending “Pays Cool” is a long electric guitar solo which complements very well. .

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.

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