Proudly filling the big shoes of his father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith pumps out a time withstanding album Drop The Hammer with The House Bumpers. There is no denying that music runs in the Smith bloodline, straight out of Chicago itself. Kenny’s musical talents and awards would create a list the size of a CVS receipt that span from winning a Grammy to working with legendary musicians such as Mick Jagger, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and many other artists that laid the brick before and beside him. With Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith being one of the most multi-talented and boundary pushing artist in the blues scene, Drop The Hammer is a force to be reckoned with.
Raised in the heart of Chicago, the home of blues itself, Kenny brings the sound of the concrete jungle from present and past into his music. “I laugh with the blues, cry with the blues, and most importantly I can feel the blues inside of me every single day just like I can feel the beating of my heart.” Kenny says, and the soulful music is a testament to his roots both present and past. Drop The Hammer is not only touched with the down home blues sound we all know and love, but a compelling amount of instruments and notable artists; Sugar Blue, Greg Guy (son of Buddy Guy), Felton Crews, Billy Flynn, and Guy King.
Drop The Hammer comes to life with a humming harmonica as “Head Pounder” kicks off the album. “Head Pounder” follows a man running from his worried mind to whatever sanctuary that will open it’s arms along the way – alcohol, a good ol’ toke, medication, sleep; anything to ease his woes. The trusty and rusty gold of the harmonica continues to take us into the wholesome and sweet song that is “Hey Daddy”, which actually includes Kenny Smith’s children – Mae, Clara, and Teddy Smith. Already starring on their daddy’s album, we can only wonder if they will keep blues in the family tree.
Moving from Kenny’s soft side to his more rough side, the album transitions into a more groovy sounding song “Drop The Hammer”. “Drop The Hammer” is a blunt song about receiving a blunt hit to the face if you cross a line, and let’s be honest we have all let out that warning cry. Keeping the swaying sound going, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and The House Bumpers lean on a more gospel style with “Scratchin’ Your Head”. “Scratchin’ Your Head” makes you want to sway to the beat, but the lyrics carry a much darker tone; a story of a man leaving his wife, his family, and running into the arms of another lover. Rolling into the song “What In The World”, you get even more of a story of a lover’s quarrel. “What In The World” is a psychedelic sounding song that comes in pulses, narrating a man that is seeing his relationship crumble in front of him via, you guessed it, another man on the phone. This song speaks to a very generational problem, a world fueled by phones and social media, yet it sounds dated and nostalgic – a technique mastered by few. For some harmonica riffs and bass that make you wanna ‘drop the hammer’, check out the song “Puppet On A String”. “Puppet On A String” is an intricately layered song that blends perfectly into a dancable yet edgy song. Sounding like it came out of a saloon and into our backyard barbecues, “Secondhand Woman” jumps out with some piano and harmonica dueling on the dance floor. Lastly, but most definitely not least, “Moment Of Silence” closes the album. “Moment of Silence” is exactly that, a moment to cast a light on the instruments solely. Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and The House Bumpers cleverly take a dive into their bottomless instrumental capabilities and take a second to show off a little bit on the goodbye of their album “Moment of Silence”.
Drop The Hammer is an album you can easily turn on to just enjoy some perfectly put together tunes, but once you dive further in you also get the pleasure of enjoying a story on this musical ride of an album. Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and The House Bumpers deliver a clever, solid, intriquite, and classic album with Drop The Hammer.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Scratchin’ Your Head
– What In The World
– Puppet On A String
The Big Hit
– Puppet On A String
Review by Kailee Mills