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Paxton Norris - Something’s Gotta Give
Just when the wellspring of original blues in the Chicago style seems to be turning into mud, along come guys like this that have a handle on the genre, along with chops to spare. Paxton possesses a strong guitar attack along with a gritty voice that falls somewhere between Delbert McClinton and Kim Wilson. He brings his Michigan roots into play as life struggles and working class existence are addressed over well-played blues by the band. His fluid guitar playing draws from Alberts Collins and King, as well as Freddie King, among others.
The energy of Albert Collins’ guitar delivery surges through Paxton’s hands right from the git-go as he lunges head-first as life’s realities are addressed in the title track. The subject is covered again on the following track “Living Tight” as well as “My Credit Didn’t Go Through”. It’s a running theme with his guitar taking the role of cutting through the bulls**t.
The sturdy vocals stand toe-to-toe with the instrumental attack. Texas style boogie ala Z.Z. Top juices up “Going To Pensacola” which is about taking a break from everyday life. Bobby Blue Bland’s “Love Light” is slowed down for major emotional effect. Organ and girl backup vocals lend a gospel feel. The dual guitar approach, with the inclusion of Tyler Mac, calls up the Allman Brothers’ sound. The funky blues of “What You Talking Bout’ Willis?” includes some speed-freak guitar lines to close out this cornucopia of blues guitar goodness.
At about the time this record ends you begin to second guess yourself about the familiarity of Paxton’s voice. It’s akin to meeting some one that you felt like you’ve known forever. You remember it but can’t quite place it. Blues lessons well learned are given a new life as a fresh and truly enjoyable listen. The songwriting stays true to the blues feeling. The musicians enlisted here never get in the way. They are like a sturdy foundation that you don’t give much attention to because it never fails.
Seeing more and more bands like this getting the blues thing right does a Bluesdog’s heart real good.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.