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Troy Turner - Whole Lotta Blues

Evidence Music

14 tracks/51:28

Starting out as a child prodigy in Baton Rouge, guitarist Troy Turner has traveled the world playing the blues while escaping the attention that is often lavished on less-talented musicians. His previous studio recordings were on the Kingsnake and Telarc labels, with the last release more than ten years old. Right from the start, Turner shows that he has retained his distinctive guitar style and an expressive singing voice that was nurtured at a young age in the church choir.

Turner gets plenty of help from his musical friends, with a rotating cast of guests to a band anchored by producer Jon Tiven on a variety of instruments and Tiven’s wife, Sally, on bass. Besides well-known artists like Howard Tate, Steve Cropper, Leslie West and Felix Cavaliere, there are eight different drummers and seven keyboard players plus Mason Casey on harp for four cuts. Tiven gets co-writer credit on every track except the Don Nix classic “Goin Down”. Turner helped write two songs while five others list Hubert Sumlin in the credits.

Tate and Turner share the vocal lead on “Never Too Big For the Blues”, which might contain the first mention of the drug Oxycontin in a blues song that also reminds listeners that no matter how far you go in life, the blues is always lurking close by. The catchy vocal refrain on “Foolin’ Yourself” plus the presence of Cropper and Cavaliere make that track another highlight. Turner employs an all-star band on “Goin Down” that includes Brian May (Queen) and Leslie West (Mountain) on guitar as well as Bonnie Bramlett on harmony vocal. There are plenty of guitar fireworks over some fine piano work from Max Middleton (Jeff Beck). “Out on the Street “ takes an unflinching look at the plight of the homeless with Turner preaching that it’s a life with no winners.

The tempo picks up on “Goin’ Fishin’’ with Turner applying the fishing metaphor to his search for a good woman to love. And when the pace dials down to a slow burn on “Don’t Push Your Luck”, Turner’s tortured vocal captures the pain in lines like “..You broke my heart so many times, I need by-pass surgery.” He warns the cheating woman not to push her luck, and then emphasizes the point with a stinging guitar solo. Most of the other tracks fall into medium-tempo range, with the funky groove of “Shortchanged” offering some variety. Turner takes a humorous look at loving an older woman on “Blue Hair Woman” as he envisions an easy lifestyle under her care.
Throughout the disc, Turner sings with conviction and impresses with his fluid fretwork, which he confines to brief, concise solos. It is a solid offering that is consistent from start to finish and should raise Turner’s profile in the blues community. It’s great to have him back!

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


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