Anyone who didn’t much care for the direction Chicago blues-rocker Nick Moss took on his previous album Privileged – a bit heavier on the rocking side, sans his band the Flip Tops – can probably stop reading here. For the rest of us though, the past year and a half has been one of great anticipation, as we awaited Moss’ latest gem, unleashed last week under the title of Here I Am (Blue Bella Records).
Any question there may have been as to whether this outing would follow a similar path as the free spirited sounds of Privileged is quickly answered with the blistering guitar and piano boogie of the opening “Why You So Mean?,” followed by a gritty and powerful “Blood Runs” featuring some especially tough background vocals, and the hard shuffling title track, which has Moss boldly declaring – through both his words and guitar – that he won’t be boxed in.
Indeed, Moss is all that much deeper into his journey on Here I Am, with plenty more guitar solos and nary a track clocking in under four and a half minutes, with several in the eight to ten minute range. Backed by Travis Reed on keys, “Stumpy” Hutchkins and Nik Skilnik on bass, and Patrick Seals on drums, the disc’s ten original songs offer a rich array of sounds that span from Cream and Jimi Hendrix to the Allman Brothers Band and Delaney & Bonnie.
“Candy Nation” is a funky blues number with a few very sweet guitar licks, no puns intended, as the candy being referred to here is clearly of the medicinal variety. The first single off the album is the quieter and soulful “It’ll Turn Around,” offered both in its standard eight-minute version and as a five-minute radio edit, and one of two songs nicely accented by both male and female backing vocals.
That moves into the Cream-meets-Jimi Hendrix sound of “Long Haul Jockey,” followed soon after by the the disc’s longest cut, clocking in at nearly ten minutes, the funky “Caught by Surprise.” The slow rocking blues and psychedelic sounds of “Katie Ann (Slight Return)” and the brisk-moving “Here Comes Moses” give Moss ample time to show off more of his skill on the strings before the album closes on the fun, laughter-filled instrumental “Sunday Get Together.”
With any luck, Moss will also play well into Sunday when he visits Moondog’s in Blawnox next Saturday, December 10. It’s a show – and Here I Am, an album – well worth checking out. And now, as Moss himself points out in that title track, it’s your own damn fault if you pass him over…