Let Go Of The Reins
Whiskey Bayou Records
Besides fronting his own band J.P. Soars is a member of the all-star “Southern Hospitality” also featuring Damon Fowler, Victor Wainwright and drummer Chris Peet. In 2013 Tab Benoit produced their debut album “Easy Livin’”. When Benoit decided to begin his own label Fowler was the first to be signed. It wasn’t long before Benoit began planning to record the two-time Blues Music Award nominated Soars too. Soars and Benoit had become familiar with each other during the many nights jamming on the Legendary Blues Cruise. Soars fifth studio album became a reality during a week at Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou studios in Houma Louisiana. For this aptly titled recording Benoit also took over as the session’s drummer as Chris Peet switched to bass. Guitarist Soars states “put Tab and Chris together and it’s my dream team rhythm section”. Tillis Verdin sits in on the Hammond B-3 on half the tracks. On this swamp styled session eleven songs were waxed including seven new originals from Soars, and four covers.
Soars opens with his arrangement of the classic “I’ve Been Down So Long” originally written and recorded by J.B. LeNior in 1957. Interestingly LeNior, also spelled Lenior or Lenore, often performed as J.B. and His Bayou Boys. Soars sings “Been Down So Long, being down don’t worry me no more…well I’m gonna find my suitcase and move back to Arkansas” before ripping a guitar solo.
“If You Wanna Get To Heaven”… you got to raise a little hell” is from the 1973 self-titled debut album from the southern rock band The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and released as a single the following year. “Let It Ride” written by Soars’ old friend Arkansas’ Randy Whately features Benoit on both drums and pedal steel. Soars’ also fronts his own Gypsy Jazz Revue and his guitar is just fabulous on Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Blues” first recorded in 1947.
Originals include the tribute “Freddie King Thing” as Soars channels the iconic guitarist before singing “Hey, hey pretty baby, why don’t you dance for me”. The title track, “Let Go of the Reins”, is another from the swamp this time featuring Benoit with some big bayou beats.
Verdin adds just the right amount of B-3 spice to the rhythm section on the funky instrumental “Crows Nest” as Soars’ guitar cries. “Time To Be Done” is another funky tune from the foursome.
Soars’ “Well Lord Have Mercy On My Soul for I have done too much wrong” is a powerful gospel styled rocker. Benoit and Soars collaborate on the lyrics for “Lonely Fire” with a beautiful acoustic guitar solo from Soars. “Old Silver Bridge” features Soars on Dobro and Benoit on acoustic guitar.
One can hear and feel the excitement as guitarist/vocalist Soars, drummer Benoit, bassist Peet, and keyboardist Verdin capture these special moments.