Every now and then, an album comes along that reminds you just how much fun the blues can be. Perhaps I was just in the right mood, or perhaps I was only hearing what I wanted to hear (not a bad way to go through life, by the way), or perhaps Bare Knuckles & Brawn — the latest release from Canadian Gypsy Blues duo Blue Moon Marquee — instantly put a smile on my face because it is one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had so far this summer.
This is the third full-length album from Blue Moon Marquee. This record features a full band: Darcy Phillips (keyboards), James Hollywood Badger (drums), Jerry Cook (saxophone), Jack Garton (trumpet), Paul Pigat (guitar), Jasmine Colette (vocals and bass), A.W. Cardinal (vocals and guitar), and was engineered and co-produced by Erik Nielsen.
There’s a little bit of everything there is to love about the blues in this collection. From the delta blues, to the big band treatment, to a more intimate jazzy style, Bare Knuckles & Brawn plays it all. My favorite track is “As I Lay Dying,” a poetic tango that conveys all of the regrets of the great actor Jason Robards, Jr. performing a soothing monologue from an inevitable deathbed. Vocalist A.W. Cardinal gives a knockout performance of subtle refinement. What more can you want from an album titled Bare Knuckles & Brawn?