Looks like Shah and friends have been moving on up in the blues world since their first CD, Deep Detroit, was released in 2000. Recorded in the easygoing comfort of Howard Glazer’s basement home studio, the disc wound up earning the band stellar reviews worldwide and no shortage of tours both domestic and abroad.
Tell It To Your Landlord — again recorded in Glazer’s magic basement — possesses that same dirt-beneath-the-fingernails kind of grit that characterized the first release, but with added maturity and variety.
Variety, that is, within the context of the gut-level blues territory where Shah and Glazer prefer to tread. You won’t find any smoky funk grooves rumbling beneath any of the tracks here, nor will you hear even a hint of blues/rock. What you will find is a more mature, comfortable rhythmic sound; it fits so well with Shah’s sometimes painfully comic lyric lines, which are often improvised on the spot. The improved range of tunes stretches from the belly-crawling “Guilty,” to the up-tempo shuffle number, “Hey Detroit.” There is also a great little acoustic number, “Mean and Evil,” that showcases the talents of Shah and Glazer without a net.
Deep Detroit was good. Tell It To Your Landlord is better. All the time spent together on the road pays off here in spades. Shah, Glazer and the band have developed a comfortable chemistry that successfully re-creates the root sound of the blues without being copycats.
And, as you well know, that ain’t easy.
E-mail Keith Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.