Artist: Jim Gustin & Truth Jones
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 03/31/2017
Jim Gustin’s force-of-nature voice brings to mind Long John Baldry and perhaps Canadians Big Doug McLean and Jim Byrnes. Some compare his vocals to Springsteen. He has a natural smoky rasp in his baritone that’s simply perfect for the funky blues he and his band lay down. So, while Gustin’s vocals are enough to carry this effort, there’s female counterbalance in the soulful gospel-like vocals of his partner, Jeri Goldenhar (aka Truth Jones). The pair wrote all ten originals, Gustin with six and collaborating on four, where Truth Jones takes the vocal lead.
This sophomore release follows the acclaimed debut in 2013, Can’t Shed a Tear. Both were produced by West Coast producer Terry Wilson who has worked with Eric Burden, Teresa James, and Ana Popovic, among others. Gustin also makes plenty of statements with his economical, funky guitar leads. Wilson anchors the rhythm section on bass and along with James, adds background vocals. Steve Alterman pounds the keys with Herman Mathews on drums.
There’s some great blues music made today by artists living in and L.A.. Gustin has been playing as a sideman in the area for 30 years across numerous rock and blues acts. He’s had high profile gigs at Staples Center, for example. This is a pairing of two veterans that somehow found each other performing at the same church, charity events or blues society gatherings.
Yes, this is one of those nice surprises when an unfamiliar artist/band just grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. Too many blues albums generate repetitive riffs and predictable fare; and at times Gustin and Jones are guilty of that too. Yet, their soulful heart-felt vocals set them apart. Check out “Half Past Ten,” the title track, and the closer, “Right Time for Goodbye.” And, I’ll say it one more time. If nothing else, you need to hear Jim Gustin’s voice. My bet is that you can’t get enough of it.