Altered Five Blues Band: Cryin’ Mercy Review

When Altered Five Blues Band released their debut album in 2008, they earned credence for sparking songs from rock’s blues-infused years to life in new and inventive ways. 2008’s Bluesified found the Milwaukee-based quintet reviving a wide sampling of influences, including the Rolling Stones (“Beast of Burden”), Creedence Clearwater Revival (“Fortunate Son”) and Sting (“If You Love Somebody Set Them Free”). Following the release of their second album Gotta Earn It, comprised entirely of original material, Altered Five returned last fall with Cryin’ Mercy, an 11-track collection written by the band and produced by Grammy winner Tom Hambridge.

On Cryin’ Mercy, Altered Five introduce their latest project with an edge of southern swing through the powerfully rhythmic opener “Demon Woman.” The quintet produces an aura of casual speed on “I’m in Deep” and “Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry” – the effect is one of effortless know-all as guitarist Jeff Schroedl and vocalist Jeff Taylor pair technical ability with commendable timing. Meanwhile, bassist Mark Solveson, keyboardist Raymond Tevich and drummer Scott Schroedl have their own moments in the spotlight. Solveson maintains an essential backbeat on “I’m In Deep,” while “Back Button” opens with a mighty interlude from Scott Schroedl. As Taylor sings of personal strivings and false love in “Find My Wings” and “Counterfeit Lover,” the tracks are elevated by a soulful quality derived from Tevich’s keyboard work.

Cryin’ Mercy has the effect of an experienced group playing in a small venue or bar packed with blues fans. Altered Five have fun with their music: they maintain strong rhythms and stick to a contemporary blues sound, but rules of form and sound don’t get in their way. Instead, Altered Five let their music evolve as they play, giving tracks like “Counterfeit Lover” and “Who’s Your Lover” a live feel. By giving the songs a chance to develop, Altered Five demonstrate a sense of control over their work that seems to progress with each new release.

The Review: 7/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Demon Woman
– I’m In Deep
– Counterfeit Lover

The Big Hit

– Demon Woman

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

One thought on “Altered Five Blues Band: Cryin’ Mercy Review

  • January 12, 2015 at 7:01 pm
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    Based on this review (especially the last paragraph) and the video sample, I’m surprised this release didn’t receive at least an 8/10. “Demon Woman” is a nice blend of traditional blues with unexpected twists and turns. That said, I haven’t heard the whole album.

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