Album Reviews

Jimmy Burns

It Ain't Right

Artist:     Jimmy Burns

Album:     It Ain't Right

Label:     Delmark

Release Date:     08/21/2015


Chicago soul/blues favorite, Jimmy Burns, is back with his fourth Delmark studio release, his first in 12 years. And, damn! He proves once again why his vocals and cover interpretations are just irresistible. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Burns live in Chicago clubs over the past two decades and have always marveled at his effortless, tasteful and clean distinctive sound which is on full display here. Even such well-known tunes as “Stand By Me” and “Messin’ With the Kid” sound totally fresh rendered by Burns. Jimmy is backed by his regular band with top notch producer, Dick Shurman, aboard to help craft a mix of obscure and well-known covers that run the gamut from traditional blues to soul and even gospel.

Guitarist Billy Flynn wrote to new tunes for Burns, the rollicking opener, “Big Money Problem” and the ballad “Will I Ever Find Somebody?”  There are nods to Percy Mayfield, Jimmy Reed, and Little Walter as well. Burns adds Billy Branch’s pianist, Ariyo, and the in-demand organist, Roosevelt Purify, with horns on four tracks to deliver a melodic, yet funky groove. There are a generous 15 tracks here that will undoubtedly have you searching for Burns’ tour schedule next. Jimmy doesn’t tour much though so make it point to see him when you’re in Chicago where he plays several nights a week.

Let’s face it.  Much of the blues we hear today is compromised. It’s just too formulaic or cluttered with rock-star like guitar solos. Thankfully we have Jimmy Burns to show us how it can be done really well. He’s not flashy. His guitar style, for example, is wonderfully understated but always on the mark. Even with an album of covers, Jimmy is an original.

—Jim Hynes

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