Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review -- JIM BYRNES -- My Walking Stick

Jim Byrnes
Black Hen Music
Since the first time I heard Jim Byrnes' 1996 release That River, I have been a huge fan. I still rate That River among my favourite all-time blues albums, and Canadian albums.
House of Refuge, which was reviewed here in June last year, also impressed.
I can tell you that for the most part My Walking Stick follows Byrnes efforts to impress.
The opening cut Ol' Rattler would fit right in with That River in terms of favourite songs among the three CDs.
Walk On Boy follows up here, and is another great cut.
The opening strains of the title cut are a bit different, with a near Spanish approach, and while I had anticipated the title cut to be a gem, it was for me, a bit too much of a departure for Byrnes.
That is perhaps the strength of this album for some. Byrnes takes things further in terms of material than on the previous disks. However, I fell in love with Byrnes as a blues man on That River, and I wanted more of that here.
So when he comes up with Lookin' For A Love, a song he does as a 1950's-style rock song, it's not quite what I was hoping for here. That said, he does a good job on the song, if you take it in isolation, away from expectations created by earlier works.
Byrnes gets back into a more blues vein with Ophelia, albeit with an R&B twist.
Other songs of note here include Talk In Circles, Lonely Blue Boy (Danny's Song) and One Life (Creole Poetry).
Overall, there are 13 songs here, and generally they are very solid. Byrnes has a comfortable, personable voice which carries the material well, and that allows the listener to get into the music on a highly personal level.
Byrnes gives us a bit more varied approach here, and that is good, and bad, as mentioned before. For fans of the blues side of Byrnes, this one takes a bit to grow on you, but in the end, he wins you over with his fine style.
Still very highly recommended. Check it out at

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 17, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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