Jay Jesse Johnson Band: Down The Hard Road Review

Down The Hard Road is the sixth album from the guitarist and vocalist Jay Jesse Johnson and his band featuring Reed Bogart on bass, Lee Evans on keyboards and Jeff Donaldson on drums. Recorded in Hamilton, Ohio, it’s an excellent blues rock record with eight original songs and two covers. Special guests were Jim Norcross on alto and baritone saxophone and Jimmy D. Rogers on piano.

With a cool slide solo, the title track opens the album. In the boogie following the intro, JJJ describes his life on the road as a musician. Next, “Anyway The Wind Blows” and “The Blues Is A Damn Sad Thing” are both genuine blues songs, full of nice guitar solos. The classic “Born Under A Bad Sign,” recorded by Albert King in 1967, shows an inspired JJJ, this song doesn’t seem to get old. Initiated by a short and clear piano intro, “Drive Me Home” is one of the best. The songs starts like a ballad, but becomes an uptempo rocking blues.

“Tears Of The Angels” is the standout track of the album. With superb guitar solos, the song features the most soulful and heartful vocals on the record. “Guilty Of The Blues” has a delta blues intro before achieving a mid-tempo blues shuffle. JJJ shows his country influences on the instrumental “Bull In The Barn.” Replete of slide guitar licks, “Beer Bottle Blues” makes you wonder if JJJ is actually using a beer bottle as a slide. The presence of Jimmy D. Rogers playing piano made a huge impact on the song. Closing the album, Roy Buchanan’s “The Messiah Will Come Again,” a beautiful instrumental version where JJJ shows his guitar skills. Closer to Gary Moore’s version, it’s awesome to see his music kept alive.

Jay Jesse Johnson is an outstanding blues guitarist and Down The Hard Road showcases his talent. The guitar driven blues rock fans will definately love this album, JJJ and his band are on fire on this record.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Down The Hard Road
– The Blues Is A Damn Sad Thing
– Drive Me Home
– Tears Of The Angels
– Beer Bottle Blues

The Big Hit

– Tears Of The Angels

Review by Pedro Matta

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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