Jimmy Hall is considered by many a rock legend for his vocal ability and harmonica playing. Most known for his time with Wet Willie, Hall has been a staple in the blues rock community for decades. He is set to release his first record of new material since 2007’s Build Your Own Fire. Jimmy has partnered with Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive label for this latest release entitled Ready Now which is available on September 16th on KTBA Records.
The project was produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, and recorded at Nashville’s historic Ocean Way Studios. Once again, Joe has enlisted a world-class stable of musicians to back Hall on this project including: Joe Bonamassa (guitar), Josh Smith (guitar), Reese Wynans (keys), Michael Rhodes (bass), Greg Morrow (drums), Warren Haynes (guitar), and Jarod James Nichols (guitar).
Jimmy’s voice is seasoned and getting better with age. His voice conveys the emotion and life lessons that he’s learned throughout his life. The listener will have no trouble feeling and believing every nuance of his vocals on this release. The A-List level of musicians and stellar production on this record, create the perfect platform for Jimmy to showcase his undeniable vocal abilities.
The lead single “Jumpin’ for Joy” is a great up-tempo shuffle that starts off the record. It’s a feel-good tune, that almost instantly makes you smile. You can feel the “joy” in Halls’s voice as he effortlessly bounces around the track vocally.
The title track “Ready Now” is nothing short of epic. The song discusses Hall’s redemption journey, which only happens when one has weathered the storms of life and come through the other side. “Ready Now” features Warren Haynes on slide guitar and gives the song the classic Allman Brothers feel that Warren was so crucial in creating during his tenure with the band.
“A Long Goodbye” is another monumental track on the project that could stand the test of time as a blues rock masterpiece. The song is about a failed relationship and the challenges of saying goodbye. The theme is a universal one and should resonate with listeners young and old. The song is well crafted and leaves you thinking about past experiences in your own life. Just when you think the song is ending, it launches into one of the most impactful reprises I’ve heard in a long time. Joe Bonamassa rips through a blistering solo as the song builds to its climax where Joe is joined by Jade McCrae and Dannielle De Andrea on background vocals. This song was on repeat all day after my first listen.
“Girl’s Got Sugar” is a barn burner of a song that features some of the most intense playing on the record. Jimmy has no problem keeping up with the band and delivering an equally as intense vocal performance on the song. The song also features a virtuosic guitar track from Josh Smith which shows why he is one of the best guitar players in the business today.
“Eyes in the Back of Your Head” was written by Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke and is an acoustic track with a simplistic approach. Yet, it is another great example of the vocal abilities of Hall on this record. It’s a great showcase of the nuances of his vocal performance and proves he doesn’t need a full-blown production to relay his message to the listener. This song is as powerful as any other track on the record.
The mantra of the “Blues” as a genre and KTBA Records is to literally “Keep the Blues Alive”. Ready Now is a perfect example of why that needs to happen. In an industry where the trend is to go after the latest and greatest social media influencer, what is often lost is the heart and soul of what makes music great. Ready Now is an amazing record that showcases an artist and music style that is timeless and still needs to be heard.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Ready Now
– Girl’s Got Sugar
– Jumpin’ for Joy
– A Long Goodbye
The Big Hit
– A Long Goodbye
Buy the album: Amazon