Part of the reason Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album annihilated the music scene at the end of the last decade was because behind her unbecoming, off-color glaze was unquestionably sterling production. The sweeping/rueful strings, crisp horn section, and mild syncopation arrangements deposited the album right back into the heart and height of Stax/Volt, 1965. A resurgence of the era in design proved extremely curative for the dismal music environment of 2007, generating much needed dashes of spirit.
A resembling ethic was applied to Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears’s Tell “Em What Your Name Is! (2009), leveraging the band onto an advantageous platform.
It’s not custom for blues and soul in the millennia to accrue withstanding interest. The loyalist will remain ardently comparative and the mainstream will downplay any significance because it rings irrelevant. Black Joe Lewis, however, could care less. With his Honeybears in tow, Lewis gains traction across the country by embodying the pulse of a well-worn generation.
Echoing seminal artists Otis Redding and James Brown, Lewis and his band survive comparisons by coughing up the grit and raw glamour that set the classics on fire. I couldn’t tell you the last time a record inspired such free flowing enthusiasm. “Sugarfoot” and “Get Yo Shit,” without fail, will inflame your hips into a frantic state of groove.
What we have with Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is! is a core-rattling, quick and dirty infection. Nothing you wouldn’t expect from a potent soul and blues production that continually reaches the mark.