SAMUEL C LEES BAND Bigg Mann BMI Vision BMVCD20068 (2006)
While the Blues Matters label is to be commended for backing outfits like the Samuel C Lees band who form a core part of current rock and blues live scene, an album like this must ask questions about the usefulness of BM's publishing wing.
For while there is always a chance of a song being picked up by someone, there is a surfeit of dependable but ultimately uninspired material here to warrant any false optimism. And that is a shame because Samuel shows himself to be a good guitarist whether on rock ballads such as 'It's Not Your Fault', or on the flighty solo's of 'Little Girl Lost' or indeed when in acoustic picking mode on the all too short 'Dusty Road Blues'.
He adds some gnarled Johnny Winter style vocals and repeated riffs on 'The Way It Is', and even suggests a Lynyrd Skynyrd influence on both 'The Memory That Still Holds Me' and the bonus rock ballad 'Set Me Free'.
Ultimately however, most of Samuel's lyrics deal with failed relationships, and a mix of poor metaphors, plus a thin vocal style and some ponderous arrangements mean that he doesn't stamp his personal authority on this album.
Samuel does belatedly pull out the stops on the shuffle 'Dance Hall' on which he pulls out some fiery licks and leads the band into a good overall performance. On the evidence of this track alone perhaps a live album might have served them better for what I assume is a debut recording.