Soars High Productions
From the first time I saw JP Soars perform on stage at the International Blues Challenge, I knew I was witnessing a truly proficient guitar master. There definitely was something to be said about his winning the Albert King most promising guitarist award at that event, the man can seemingly play any style of guitar and handle them all exceptionally well. That surely comes across on his latest recording, Full Moon Night In Memphis, as he tackles a variety of instruments including electric, acoustic, Dobro, lap steel, cigar box and he even plays bass on one number. An artist who worked in both metal and Gypsy jazz before taking on the blues, he has the feel for anything he sets his mind on and all are completely amazing and satisfying.
Full Moon Night In Memphis is JP Soars third solo outing and he is also a member of the highly successful Southern Hospitality with Damon Fowler and Victor Wainwright. He has a voice that is quite distinctive and just as gritty as Howlin’ Wolf’s. His songwriting skills make him the full package with his knack for catchy, clever numbers that can take on sounds derived from old time blues, Texas shuffles, West Coast swing, New Orleans jazz, Latin and even country. And he covers them all on this disc.
So with so many flavors delivered, where do you start to describe this album. Take your pick. You cannot lose with any of them.
The title track brings back that night at IBC. Soars stood outside the stage door at The Orpheum Theater and looking at the full moon in the sky knew that this night was something special. And he was right as he sings about how it changed his life and things would never be the same again, in a good way. He rips the two strings on his cigar box on this song to their highest potential while Brandon Santini guests blowing some sizzling harmonica. Soars brings that cigar box for another fine outing on the tune “Way Back Home.”
There is a touch of T-Bone Walker on two pieces, obviously on the cover of the master’s “Mean Old World,” though Soars really slows things down here making it one of the most haunting takes ever heard of the number. His original “Makes No Sense” also brings the T-Bone feel with a smooth pace as he informs his baby that it makes no sense for her to try to change his ways as he is already set and happy with his life the way it is.
There is a little Texas styled guitar on “Savin’ All My Lovin,” West Coast swing on “Missin’ Your Kissin’” with Terry Hanck blowing mean saxophone, “Back To Broke” has a funky Memphis taste, and he even plays a little country number with Teresa James on back-up vocals and Santini again on harp on “The Road Has Got Me Down.” Soars shows that he has not lost his potential for rockin’ blues as pounds out a chunky rhythm on “Somethin’ Ain’t Right,” and tells us all he’s tired of spinning his wheels and being held back, going out of his mind on “Thorn In My Side” that starts out slow before really taking off with sharp, biting guitar. Horn players Scott Ankrom and Chaim Rubinov really take key focus on the fun rereading of the old time classic “Reefer Man” and the early New Orleans jazz styled “Viper” where Soars showcases his knack for Latin and Gypsy jazz, which also comes across beautifully on “Lil’ Mamacita.”
Soars can excel on all variations of guitar and he brings a wide variety on Full Moon Night In Memphis. There are so many roads taken on this disc and all of them come across skillfully and are attention grabbing. There’s never a dull moment when Soars is at the helm. Full Moon Night In Memphis is proof of that.
Total Time: 56:27
Full Moon Night In Memphis / Back To Broke / Makes No Sense / Somethin’ Ain’t Right / Mean Old World / Savin’ All My Lovin’ / Reefer Man / Way Back Home / The Back Room / Thorn In My Side / Viper / The Road Has Got Me Down / Lil’ Mamacita / Missin’ Your Kissin’