Album Reviews

Bobby Kyle

It’s My Life

Artist:     Bobby Kyle

Album:     It’s My Life

Label:     Juicy Baby

Release Date:     10.20.2017


Bobby Kyle has earned his way to this release, as it was many years in the making. Kyle has worked with iconic bluesman through his 40-year career including Lonnie Mack, Bill Dicey, Eddie Kirkland, and Blues Hall of Famer Johnny “Clyde” Copeland. Bobby has not made many albums under his own name but his Cobblestone release in 1996, After the Storm, earned an impressive 4.5 stars from AMG. Three years prior he participated in one of the best guitar albums of all time, Johnny Copeland’s Catch Up with the Blues, where Bobby traded licks with Lonnie Brooks, “Gatemouth” Brown, Joe “Guitar” Hughes, and “Teenie” Hodges. This time, the core band is Bobby’s own The Administers, along with a several other great players. Given the variety of styles, this is clearly one of the best blues releases this year. The title conveys the truth about this traveling bluesman but it could just as easily read “It’s My Time” or “Now It’s My Turn.”

The dozen selections are carefully chosen, covering his mentors Copeland and Kirkland with a tune each and saluting Robert Lockwood Jr. in the acoustic closer. Kyle mixes the half dozen covers with his six originals, proving his mettle as a songwriter, producer, and vocalist in the process. The horn charts, arranged by saxophonist Laron Land are especially impressive, creating a soulful R&B sound on several tracks. Little Sammy Davis and Fred Scribner, from Levon Helm lineage, guest on “Tomorrow Night.” Dave Keyes adds various keyboards throughout. The album is dedicated to one of Bobby’s closest friends and bandmate, the late guitarist Joel Perry, who can be heard all over the record.

Wailing guitars underpinned by Keyes on both piano and organ get things started with Copeland’s funky “Daily Bread.” Gorgeous horns introduce the ballad “Lost and Found,” perhaps Kyle’s strongest vocal on the album. The accordion-driven “Driftwood” floats into Americana territory, evoking a bit of The Band. The five tracks after the opener are all originals—most with horns and solid clean guitar leads from Kyle and Perry. “Highway Man” has an especially strong Stax flavor. “Blood from a Stone” features killer horn solos from all three players and more soul. Interestingly, “Tomorrow Night,” was written in 1939 and recorded by Lonnie Johnson in 1947. Listen closely and you’ll even hear some vinyl record scratches to give the tune that old time authenticity. Throughout you’ll hear Kyle go from a rather raspy vocal style on the up-tempo blues tunes to a crooning soul man on the ballads. The most well-known tune is his faithfully rendered, oft covered Denise LaSalle’s “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In.”

In Blues Heaven Bobby’s mentors are smiling. They know that he learned his blues well. This fine effort proves that, like them, he now belongs at center stage.

—Jim Hynes

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