James Armstrong review…February 17, 2014…

JAMES ARMSTRONG

GUITAR ANGELS

CATFOOD RECORDS   CFR-20

GRANDMA’S GOT A NEW FRIEND–HEALING TIME–TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT–GUITAR ANGELS–MOVING TO NASHVILLE–GOODBYE KISS–BANK OF LOVE–SATURDAY NIGHT WOMEN–BLUES AIN’T NOTHIN–RUNAWAY TRAIN–GUITAR ANGEL (RADIO VERSION)

James Armstrong’s mother was a blues singer and his father a jazz guitarist, so music is a huge part of his DNA.  He possesses a sweet, fat tone in his guitar playing, and his original songs have equal parts poignancy and humor while staying in step with his blues roots.  His latest release from Catfood Records is entitled “Guitar Angels,” with nine originals and two covers that play out as James’ most intense and personal album thus far.

A violent home invasion in 1996 severely limited James’ ability to use his left hand and arm, but, thru intense rehabbing and the support of the blues community, he has perservered and, with this strong set, continues to thrive.

The title cut proves this out, indeed.  Since his injury, James believes those “Guitar Angels” have been looking out for him, and he name-checks them all, both living and dead, from “Hendrix to SRV” to “Collins and the Kings,” on thru the current angels, producer Mike Ross, Coco Montoya, and Joe Louis Walker.  He also pays tribute to  Michael Ross’ late brother, Norman, himself an accomplished guitarist, with nthe uplifting “Healing Time,” and its message of “time to lose the pain.”

James takes a hard look at alcoholism with the minor-key “Runaway Train,” comparing himself to a “backsliding sinner headed straight to Hell,” then drops a funky slide number on his promise to “get away from the cold” by “Moving To Nashville!”

James brings a humorous touch to several cuts, too.  “Saturday Night Women” is a red-hot shuffle that deals with those women on the prowl for a no-strings good time, tryin’to find that “Saturday night man.”  And, another stone cold rocker has James finding romance behind the teller window in the “Bank f Love.”

We had two favorites, too.  The set leads off with another of James’ contemporary looks at life, love, and the pursuit of a good time, no matter what your age, the stop-time “Grandma’s Got A New Friend.”  And, James totally reinvents Glenn Frey’s “Take It To The Limit,” into a boogie-fied strut that swings with unabashed abandon!

James Armstrong has overcome all types of adversity and continues to be able to see the humor thru the pain.  Most importantly, tho, for us blues fans, is that he’s able to translate these thoughts into the great music that comprises “Guitar Angels.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Michael Ross on February 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Folks – thanks for the great review. Once correction. Norman is my brother not James’ best Michael Ross

    Reply

  2. Michael….I made the correction. Sorry for the confusion. It’s a great record, and best of luck to you guys!
    Don

    Reply

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