Mood Swings is the debut for singer/songwriter/drummer/percussionist Andy Peake who invites a wide cast of mostly Nashville-based musicians to join him in his eclectic mix of blues and roots tunes. Seven of the eleven are either penned or co-written by Peake with two highly recognizable cover tunes and two others that come form his Nashville-based friends. The musicians are world class in pedigree. They include guitarists Will McFarlane, James Pennebaker, Chris Leuzinger, Andy Reiss and John Prestia; keyboardists Al Hill, Kevin McKendree, and Philip Wolfe; bassists Paul Ossola, Bob Marinelli, John Marcus, and Bryan Grassmeyer; trumpeter Scott Ducaj and saxophonist Michael “Miqui” Gutierrez. Notably, songwriter and ace publicist Karen Leipziger co-wrote one of the album’s strongest tunes, “Another Day, Another Teardrop.”
The album begins with a rather tongue-in-cheek swipe at the blues in “Make Peace With the Blues,” with a lineup of the twin guitars of Prestia, and Pennebaker with Hill on keys and Ossola on bass. Peake’s bent for wit continues in “Hip Replacement,” cleverly using the double entendre of shady behavior with the medical operation. Here, Peake drew his inspiration from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue fused with a salsa rhythm bed and Sam Broussard’s guitar lead. This is one of the two tracks that features the two horn players. The swinging title track that features Hill, Prestia, Reiss, and Ossola is inspired by Mose Allison.
“If The Blues Was Green” is another witty number with the title inspired by “Blues in Green” from Kind of Blue, featuring the Delbert McClinton tandem of keyboardist McKendree and guitarist Pennebaker for a Louisiana inspired danceable roadhouse tune. McKendree returns with the two horn players for the soulfully infectious “My Baby’s Got a Light On,” an album standout. “Do It While You Can” and “Untangle the Line,” are the two tracks that most highlight the leader’s drumming and percussion skills. The two covers – Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” seem somewhat misplaced although Philip Wolfe’s organ and guest vocalist John Cowan redeem the former. Peake has a less distinctive vocal style in comparison.
“Another Day, Another Teardrop” is a blues rocker, driven by the twin keyboards of Hill and Wolfe and the guitar tandem of Prestia, and Pennebaker, propelled by the steady rhythms of Ossola and Peake. “Bitter Pill” is one of those relatable lost love songs which rumbles along as a melodic roots song, imbued by Broussard’s guitar work, one of the best songs here.
As one might expect, given the eclectic styles and the varied aggregation of musicians, the album is a bit uneven but does have its memorable moments.
- Jim Hynes
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