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Jack Edery & UltraSuede - Fried Chicken & Whiskey

Independent release

11 tracks/49:26

Hailing from Beaumont, TX, guitarist Jack Edery fronts a band that mixes a variety of musical influences into a coherent and entertaining package of original music. Edery handles most of the vocals with his dark, edgy voice. He spent some time in Chicago and played with some of the city’s veteran blues musicians, including a stretch in the band of Jimmy Dawkins. At times, Edery’s guitar picking captures the same level of emotional intensity that Dawkins is capable of generating. Susan Pierce handles the keyboards and has several opportunities to feature her outstanding vocal talents. The rhythm section of Jason McCollum on bass and Robert Smith on drums is solid throughout the disc. Jimbo Mathus, who adds backing vocals, guitar and keyboards on several of the cuts, produced the disc.

UltraSuede comes at you with a roadhouse attitude that one might expect from a band out of Texas. They rip through the traditional tune “Throw a Boogie Woogie” with an energy level bordering on maniacal. Shifting gears, the band shows it can handle the Louisiana swamp pop style on “Cajun Queenie” with Eric Carlson on keyboards. Edery’s guitar is featured the acoustic run-through of “Turn Me Loose in Your Kitchen”, with lyrics full of sexual innuendo. Pierce and Edery do a duet on “Good at Being Bad” and Pierce dominates the proceedings with her powerful, sassy voice.

Equally impressive is her lead vocal on “Blind Woman with a Gun”, her own composition. She convincingly tells the tale of a mistreated woman and her promise of revenge. The title track shows the group can get funky, with Carlson on organ and Edery laying down some rapid-fire guitar lines. “Blues Outside My Window” is a tough rocker with Edery shouting out the lyrics over Pierce’s stormin’ piano. Another highlight is the haunting “Mr. Earvin” with one Edery’s strongest vocal performances. The instrumental “Knucklebuster” provides Edery and Pierce with the space to showcase their skill on their respective instruments. The brooding “Ballad of Yvonne & Angel” misses the mark because Edery’s voice can’t quite handle the demands of the song.

For their first release, Edery and company have put together a solid package that would suggest that they can generate plenty of excitement during their live performances. It certainly helps to have a veteran like Jimbo Mathus directing the project and keeping the band focused. Edery delivers an appealing batch of tunes and the band fleshes out each one in appealing fashion. The project might have benefited if Pierce had a few more spots to showcase her vocal talent. Otherwise, UltraSuede can be proud of the way this one turned out.

Reviewer  Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford, IL.

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