Jeremiah Johnson Band – Blues Heart Attack (review)

Jeremiah Johnson Band – Blues Heart Attack (Connor Ray) review

The electric guitar has taken a back seat in a lot of music these days.  I’m talking about the kind of gritty playing that touches your soul.  Well, let’s hear it for the Jeremiah Johnson Band, who’ve concocted twelve songs, all with that six-stringed instrument featured front and center.

Blues Heart Attack is the new album from this St. Louis-based band, which kicks off with the blistering “Mind Reader,” which has a stop/start chorus.  The psychedelic-infused “Room Full of Blues” (which features tasty electric piano), has a tremelo guitar that reminds me of Robin Trower, while Johnson’s lead vocal growling will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

The jazz-infused “Flat Line” provides a nice change of pace.  Featuring brushes on the drums, plus sax and piano, it’s where the title “Blues Heart Attack” comes from.  “Get It in the Middle” is classic jumpin’ blues with a great walking bass line.

“Skip That Stone” is reminiscent of those great instrumentals by the Allman Brothers, and features some fine guitar work from Johnson.  “Southern Drawl” has an acoustic classic rock anthem feel (complete with Hammond organ), as he references Elvis, Johnny Cash and “Freebird.”  Although it’s a celebration of Southern heritage, it avoids being preachy or political; instead celebrating the simple things in life, like attending a baseball game with his grandson.

The album closes with “It’s Been Hard,” which builds throughout the track, adding sax, organ, and guitar, and ending with a hard blues finish.

This diverse set of tunes is held together by Johnson’s guitar playing, which is equal parts blues fluidity and rock grit.  And, I’m a sucker for great guitar tone, which he gets throughout from his Delaney signature guitars.  The addition of Frank Bauer on saxophone on many of the tracks elevates everything up a notch.

Blues Heart Attack is a great guitar record, full of killer songs that sound even better at excessive volume.  —Tony Peters