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The Vincent Hayes Project – Reclamation

North 61 Records 2010

11 tracks; 70.21 minutes

The Vincent Hayes Project is a Grand Haven, Michigan based trio who have added keyboards and piano for this new CD, released on their own label. The CD was recorded at the East Lansing studios of co-producer Glenn Brown where they had the opportunity to use the Neve console from the Muscle Shoals studios, the very same machine that has captured Dylan, The Allmans, Clapton and Bobby Bland. The band gigs mainly in the Michigan area but has competed in the IBCs in Memphis. This is the first material that I have heard from this band and it is an impressive collection.

The CD is a long one, so variety is important if the listener is to remain engaged. Fortunately that aspect is well covered: for example the first four tracks offer a shuffle, a funky approach, a long slow blues and a latin sound! All the tracks are written by Vince himself and there are some strong songs here.

The sound quality on the CD is excellent and the playing consistently good. Vince’s voice works fine on the material though his singing is not the strongest card in his hand as he is an excellent guitarist who can cover all parts of the blues repertoire with ease. The rhythm section is immaculate throughout and kudos go to David Alves on bass and Donnie Hugley on drums, both of whom appear to have played with Vince for some time.

The first track “Hit me high, hit me low” is a fast shuffle with a catchy chorus and makes a good upbeat start to the album. Next up is “Insecurities”, a well written song about the difficulties of relationships. Played in a funky style, the organ sound also brings a touch of soul to proceedings. Track 3 is a long slow blues entitled “I’ve got a right to change my mind” and makes a matched pair with track 8 “Some kind of fool”. Both tracks offer plenty of space for Vince to display his guitar chops. As John Mayall used to say, the mark of a good guitarist is how he approaches the slow blues tune. A word also for guest pianist Steve “Doc” Yankee whose playing subtly underpins the guitar so well on the first of these two blues.

Track 4 has a latin feel to it, bringing Carlos Santana to mind inevitably. Track 5 “I just want to get you high tonight” is a fast paced shuffle. Track 6 “Thank you baby” is one of my favourites, a churning groove with a Booker T feel to it from the organ of keyboard guest Christian VanAntwerpen and a bass line reminiscent of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help me”. The lyrics are amusing too; “I want to thank you for giving me the blues; ’cos of everything you ever gave me, baby, ’bout time I got something I can use”. Track 7 “Double Talk” has another excellent bass/organ groove with some Cropper style guitar and really rips along – you can imagine this one filling the dance floor at gigs!.

“Halfway out the door” is driven by the guitar riff and features some excellent stinging soloing. The penultimate track “Sticky thigh jive” is the only instrumental and has a relaxed feel to it with some almost jazzy playing at times. The CD ends on “You can take your troubles” a slide-driven tune with an Elmore James feel to it and makes a good ending to the album.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He went on his first Legendary Blues Cruise in January 2010 and had such a good time he will be back in 2011!

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