Vancouver Sun // November 2nd, 2018
Jim Byrnes – Long Hot Summer Days (Black Hen Music)
Five decades in the blues biz, Jim Byrnes still sounds all fired up. If anything, his recorded output just keeps on improving as he and producer Steve Dawson find more ways to give this talented singer/guitarist a forum for his deeply soulful vocals.
Inspired by the R&B he heard on the radio growing up in St. Louis, Byrnes puts a gloss of vintage class on everything from new tunes to old gems such as Robbie Robertson’s The Shape I’m In or Eddy Floyd/Wilson Pickett/Steve Cropper hits such as Ninety Nine And A Half Won’t Do.
But it’s the way he can take something as particular as late singer Jesse Winchester’s Step By Step — which opens the 12 song album — and make it a cut-to-the-bone shuffle carried on Dawson’s wicked slide guitar and the backing vocals of the wonderful gospel trio The Sojourners.
The list of backing players is a who’s who of Canada’s finest, as well as Byrnes’ ridiculously good touring band. Here’s hoping he gets to present this album with the full horn section sometime soon because they make There Is Something On Your Mind something so special.
Throughout it all, Byrnes brings a spectacular vocal variation to his singing, always suiting the song and giving the maximum emotion possible to every word.