Micke Bjorklof and Blue Strip’s latest effort, Ain’t Bad Yet captures the gusto of neo-blues rock while still paying tribute to the tradition of the music. Beginning with “Last Train to Memphis,” Bjorklof gives the listener a little bit of slide guitar meant to evoke the departing steam of a train whistle; the crowd chants along with the chorus in a song that is both an introduction and an embarkation. “Troublemaker” is the album’s first statement piece. The bend of the swaggering guitar undulates like the entrancing hips of the titular femme fatale creating a simmering sensuality. “Rain in Jerusalem” features a relentlessly thrumming guitar that attacks the senses in places not before known while Bjorklof sings about finding spiritual and societal redemption before the mortal are forsaken.
“Get Ya in Da Mood” has a smooth guitar part that sees the addition of harmonica and “Hold Your Fire Baby” changes the pace with a funky voodoo sound from the guitar and a heavy dose of sawing harmonica. The album’s title track features an odd, echoing dissonance and reminds the listener of dripping water at the end of a hollow tunnel, creating an acoustic metaphor for vitality at the end of a hideous darkness. “Rat Chase” has a fast strum pattern and sees Bjorklof let out a strained, leather-mouthed scream and “Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream” has a delightful swaying melody.
The loose strings and jangling echo of “Today” tone the album down before Bjorklof picks back up with “Blame it on the Bright Lights,” a song about two characters barhopping from one spot to the next, both of them powerless to the neon and the liquor. “In Chains” ends the album with a wailing lament.
Listeners of both old and new blues will respect Bjorklof’s treatment of the traditions and his integration of more experimental styles on Ain’t Bad Yet. Bjorklof is not afraid to try new things with the guitar and his songwriting hearkens back to the early days when blues was the hardest-hitting music around.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– It Ain’t Bad Yet
– Sweet Dream’s a Sweet Dream
– Blame it on the Bright Lights
The Big Hit
Review by McKinnie Sizemore
Buy the album: Amazon