Last year marked the re-entrance of the former Ty Curtis Band’s frontman, Ty Curtis (you guessed it), into the blues rock scene as a solo artist. As should be expected with any side or solo project, Ty Curtis’s departure from his former band is parallel with a departure from his prior sound. This record presents itself with a certain earnestness that won’t be easily found on his band’s previous three albums, digging to new emotional depths that are translated into music. Amidst all the earnestness, however, Ty Curtis’s solo debut can come off a bit cliché. Vocals intended to soar don’t always lift off, and it can be easy to predict the next chord. Honest moments occur here and there on this record, too; but with limited frequency, this album can be a little underwhelming.
The terms “soulful” and “blues” are almost inextricable, and if there’s one thing Ty Curtis’s album is all the way through it’s soulful. Beyond that, though, some emotional elements seem to get lost in the translation. Curtis seems to draw from a variety of different genres (most of which are at least semi-related to blues) to provide variety. The country influence on Ty Curtis’s self-titled release is undeniable, and every once in a while ventures into almost-gospel territory. The mid-section of this release is particularly noteworthy. “How was I to Know” pulls the reggae card, resulting in an almost lazy, ska feel. Of course, some credibility is lost on this track when the lyrics are considered: “How was I to know I would need you / On this island in the Caribbean.” The result, of course, is that the track feels a little too contrived. “Feel What I Feel” offers some funk triplet rhythms, passionate vocals on Curtis’s behalf, and Ephraim Owens’ horn mastery.
This record still has its moments of honesty. Curtis’s vocals on “How was I to Know” are fresh and earnest, and the album closer, “Baby Blue,” gets into a groove that feels refreshingly natural despite its contrived lyricism. “Play My Part” also has a subtle sense of urgency despite its slow pace and acoustic basis, and is perhaps Curtis’s best vocal performance of the record.
Any type of departure comes with its risks, and sometimes albums that reach for new heights can turn out a little underwhelming. What clicks on this album, clicks well – the spectacular horns on the second half of “Feel What I Feel,” or the gospel-esque passionate vocal delivery of “Play My Part.” For the most part, though, Ty Curtis will leave his listeners wanting just a little bit more. Perhaps that little-bit-more will rear its head on his next release – if anything, this record signals all Ty Curtis’s potential ready to manifest itself.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Play My Part
– Feel What I Feel
– Baby Blue
The Big Hit
– Play My Part
Review by Richard MacDougall