Sugar Ray And The Bluetones review…October 24, 2016…

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES

SEEING IS BELIEVING

SEVERN RECORDS  0068

SWEET BABY–SEEING IS BELIEVING–NOONTIME BELL–KEEP ON SAILING–BLIND DATE–YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU–MISSES BLUES–IT AIN’T FUNNY–NOT ME–GOT A GAL–TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS TOO  LONG–IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME

A new album from another of our long-time favorite bands, Sugar Ray And The Bluetones, is always a cause for celebration around the Crow house.  “Seeing Is Believing” is their seventh album for Severn Records, and is a more-than-worthy follow-up to their 2014 set, “Living Tear To Tear.”  Ray is on harp and vocals, and The Bluetones are Monster Mike Welch on guitars, Anthony Geraci on keys, Neil Gouvin on drums, and Michael Ward on bass.  These guys have a near-telepathic approach to the blues, as they’ve just marked their 35th anniversary as a band, with Mike Welch the “youngster,” with “only” sixteen years in as guitarist!

Things kick off right with the Mississippi shuffle of “Sweet Baby,” with Ray’s signature growl in the vocal mix.  The title cut deals with the stark reality of a cheatin’ lover, with a blistering, extended solo from Mike at the two-minute mark.  Ray revisits that melancholy vibe a bit later with “Not Me,” another tale of “this time my baby’s really gone!”

For the rest of the set, tho, the good times roll.  Check out the Muddy-inspired slow-blues of a man who stayed at the racetrack ’bout “Two Hundred Dollars Too Long,” and the swingin’ band original, “It’s Been A Long Time,” which closes the set.

We had three favorites, too.  It’s impossible to “miss” the point on the clever play on words that is “Misses Blues.”  Ray’s look at the journeys of life, “Keep On Sailing,” begins with only Ray’s vocal and harp, before the Bluetones join in mid-song for a rousing finish.  And, Mike Welch turns in an instrumental tour-de-force on a stirring tribute to B. B. King,  “You Know I Love You.”  Mike captures the tone, spirit, and vibrancy of the original, and we know Riley would be proud!

Sugar Ray Norcia And The Bluetones  have a common goal as a band–to have some fun!  And, “Seeing Is Believing” does just that.  In fact, if you’re not having fun listening to this set, you’re doing something wrong!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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