Album review: COLIN JAMES – Open Road

Stony Plain Records [Release date 05.11.21]

Since releasing his debut album in 1988 Colin James has been a stalwart of the blues scene, with trips into swing and rock ‘n’ roll with his Little Big Band and on this, his twentieth album, adding a little more of Americana to his sound.

In addition to his own studio offerings, Colin James has worked with some of the world’s most revered artists including Bonnie Raitt, Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Albert King, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, ZZ Top, Mavis Staples, Carlos Santana, Little Feat and many more.

On ‘Open Road’ he is joined by drummer, Geoff Hicks, bassist Norm Fisher and Simon Kendall on B3 and Clavinet.

It is a cover heavy album, with the opening run through Tony Joe White’s ‘As The Crow Flies’, the harmonica/guitar trade off on Otis Rush’s ‘It Takes Time’ and the rollicking version of Bob Dylan’s ‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’, the stand outs.

Of his own co-writes the title track and ‘Raging River’, have an emphasis on gentle blues meets heartland America. The latter you could easily imagine Bruce Springsteen covering and enjoying. The rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Leave This House; is great fun, with a smoking guitar solo and Jess O’Brien laying down some boogie-woogie piano.

Colin James is one of the most consistent, in terms of musical quality, and enjoyable blues artists around today. ‘Open Road’ further enhances his reputation. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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