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Freddie Mack

Pittsburgh Blues Society Review
James Solberg
Real Time

Blues Eclipse Records
For many years James Solberg traveled with Luther Allison and performed alongside many of the blues legends. "Real Time" is his fifth solo release, and it is filled with exciting guitars and original music from a well traveled musician who can rock your socks off. His website has much more information than I could mention here, so make sure to stop by and check it out.

The CD opens with the funky rocker "It's Alright." Bopping along at a rapid pace, his incendiary guitar work on this one is only a warning of things to come. Followed by "Real Time" where James hits you right in the chest with a heapin' helping of good old rhythm and blues. Original songs like this one have already earned him two W.C. Handy Awards, and I don't expect him to slow down anytime soon.

The soulful "Let the Teardrops Fall" shows a tender side of James, which at times sounds like SRV, but maintains a Stax / Volt vibe throughout. "Secondhand Smoke" is what Bob Dylan would sound like doing the blues. James is not afraid to throw some thought provoking lyrics on you, and he makes it flow like water. All the while he's just wailing on the guitar. The next tune "I Like Lovin' You" is like butter. Delicate, reserved, and so heartfelt. It has been a long time since I've heard someone who so fluid, confident, and comfortable with his vocal and guitar style.

On the slow blues grinder "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven" James shows off some mighty tasty leads influenced heavily by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Otis Rush. Fans of SRV should take note; this is the type of stuff that inspired many great guitarists. The uptempo "Rockin' the Cradle" is fine example of boogie-woogie blues usually only associated with blues legends B.B., Albert, or Freddie King. James Solberg might make it sound easy, but it's not. Believe me. The last song on the CD "Gotta Play My Blues" is a slow jazzy blues number. The band backing him shines throughout the CD, but on this track the organ & piano are delicious.

Make sure to check out James Solberg live. According to his website he will be in Pittsburgh on Friday, June 10, 2005, at a local venue that has yet to be announced.

Copyright, Fred McIntosh. All rights reserved.