Tommy Schneller: Cream of the Crop Review

Tommy Schneller and company’s newest release is a nostalgic throw back to the days of horn sections and big band swagger.  As a native German speaker, he sings very well in English, and is well versed in the different styles of Blues and R & B.  The album, Cream of the Crop, is a wide mix of the genre’s and is crisply recorded, riding the line between familiar Americana and tasteful tribute.

Cream of the Crop comes out of the gate with a couple bluesy numbers, “Hands in the Air” and “She’s Good to Me.”  Both sound like a night at B.B. King’s on Beale St, which, depending on whom you ask, could be a good or a bad thing.  “Cream of the Crop,” the title track, is a bit of a swing number, where Mr. Schneller lets us know that he ain’t settling for just any ol’ lady, claiming all he has to do is sit by the phone and the “cream of the crop” will come a callin’.  “Super Hero” comes next, and it’s here that the album, and band, fall into a groove that seems more fitting.   Somewhere between Randy Newman and James Taylor, the adult contemporary sound fits Schneller’s voice much better, and it’s at this point he’s at his most charming.  And who doesn’t love a good ol’ Peter Parker reference every now and again?  “Isn’t It New” is another stand out track in the same vein, and seems to be made for wedding first dances, with Schneller dropping his playboy attitude and crooning “forever I will care for you.”  “Your Somebody Else” has shades of John Mayer’s Continuum album and is Schneller mixing his bluesy cockiness in with his endearing self-depreciation.

Tommy Schneller is a fantastic saxophone player and his voice is capable of both a low grit and a chiming smoothness.  His band is tight and well-rehearsed, it’s hard to judge what is probably an incredible live show on such a small batch of recordings, but still, the polished nature of the album helps fit with Schneller’s front man professionalism.  While this album certainly isn’t for everyone, there is solid songwriting and strong musicianship.   Anyone that’s a fan of big band Chicago blues or late B.B. King would not be disappointed giving these guys a listen.

The Review: 7/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Super Hero
– Isn’t It New
– Your Somebody Else

The Big Hit

– Super Hero

Review by Tripp Shumake

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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