7 Minutes Late
American Showplace Music
Soon after Chris O’Leary was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps he joined Levon Helm and The Barnburners. As lead singer and front man he toured with Levon for six years. He eventually left the Barnburners to form his own band. He released his Chris O’Leary Band debut “Mr. Used To Be” in 2010. In 2011 that album received a Blues Music Award nomination in the category of Best New Artist Debut; and won the Blues Blast Award in the same category. Two more studio albums and a live recording followed.
This is The Chris O’Leary Band’s fifth album and second for American Showplace Music. The core band on the recording includes O’Leary, harp and vocals; Peter Hopkinson, guitar; Greg Gumpel, guitar, mandolin and background vocals; Jeremy Baum, organ and piano; Andy Stahl, tenor sax and background vocals; Chris Difrancesco, baritone, alto and tenor saxes, clarinet and background vocals; Matt Raymond, bass; and Andrei Koribanics, drums. The album is co-produced by O’Leary and Ben Elliot of American Showplace.
All of the songs are written by O’Leary who once again proves to be a great songwriter. Opening with the rhythm section and the horns, O’Leary’s previous guitarist Chris Vitarello is featured on “What the Devil Made Me Do”. “Give me an uncracked bottle of number 7 black label, a slow train out of Memphis…when I come back home to you…a thousand miles to drink, a couple hundred more to think, bout what I’m gonna’ tell ya’ bout…what the devil made me do”. O’ Leary’s vocal conveys a lot of emotion delivered with some black humor “boy I regret all the time we spent down at the firing range”.
O’Leary’s previous touring guitarist Pete Kanaras is featured on “Your Day Will Come”. His playing is evocative as O’Leary sings “Say anything to get you elected, tell the people what they want to hear, divide and separate, play up the hate, stroke the fires of fear…your day will come…and there’s gonna be some hell to pay”.
On “She Ain’t Coming Back” Hopkinson is on guitar and Gumpel on mandolin; O’Leary plays harp as the horns play an ominous dirge, “you can cry like a little baby child, you can go off stoned drunk, half cocked, three sheets and wild, but she’s gone and she ain’t coming back.” The band really cooks especially on “Second Time Around” featuring an extended harp solo from O’Leary.
“Circus Just Left Town” features a New Orleans second line beat and the lyric “Iron Sam the strong man done packed it in…him and big Sadie the bearded lady left for the coast and now they’re living in sin…well sin is about the only damn thing me and you really had down…now the circus has just left town.”
Another well written song is the title track about a tormented soul who murders his wife and her lover; let us say it doesn’t end well for him. Among my favorites is the soulful “Unbelievable” beautifully sung by O’Leary and featuring Baum on keyboards; and the rockin’ “Heartbreak Waiting to Happen”. Clocking in at over 70 minutes the original songs mix blues and Americana. The album can be played over and over as there is great emotional depth within these performances. This is O’Leary’s best yet.
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