Album Reviews

Andy T Band

Double Strike

Artist:     Andy T Band

Album:     Double Strike

Label:     American Showplace

Release Date:     6/16/2017

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Now, this is the way to make a transition. Feature your former vocalist, Nick Nixon, on half of the cuts and your new vocalist, Alabama Mike, on the other half. Fans will note that it’s no longer the Andy T- Nick Nixon Band which released three albums and received multiple Blues Music and Blues Blast Award nominations. Nixon had to retire due to health issues, and these will likely represent his last recordings. Leader/guitarist Andy Talamantez operates out of Nashville and partners once again with fellow guitarist and producer Anson Funderburgh, who will be touring with the band this summer. The core band plus guests and the Kaz Kazanof-led Texas Horns propel the soulfully swinging unit across a baker’s dozen tracks, a dozen of which are vocals.

The contrast between the gritty, lower register vocals of Nixon with the high tenor voice and animated presence of Alabama Mike makes for an enjoyable listen. Michael A. Benjamin, aka Alabama Mike, is from the. San Francisco Bay area and was recommended to Andy T by harmonica ace Bob Corritore. The new vocalist starts out on the pounding opening track, “I Want You Bad.” Then Nixon takes his turn on the Jimmy-Reed styled “Deep Inside.” The sequencing does not alternate one after the other but in strings of two, three, or four tracks each. Nixon holds sway on the soul ballad “Sweet Thing” and delivers the slow burning, infectiously catchy “Juanita,” one of the best blues tracks I’ve heard this year. Alabama Mike shines brightest on the deceptively titled big band tune, “Sad Times, the angry “Doin’ Hard Time,” and the New Orleans inspired Kazanof penned closer, “Where Did Our Love Go Wrong.”

Andy T says, “When Nick agreed to work with me on our first album, I felt like the luckiest guy on the planet. I had exactly the same feeling when Alabama Mike joined the band. They say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but this album proves that a ‘Double Strike” can happen.”

If you love the sound of clean, T-Bone Walker style guitar playing and the fusion of soul, blues, and gospel sung powerfully by two different voices, this is a must-have. It’s one of this year’s strongest blues releases.

—Jim Hynes

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