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Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Mystix 2007 Blue Morning
Rate: 212 kbps VBR / 44100
Size: 56,17 MB
There is a language spoken by certain African-Americans in the south called "Gullah", it is a Creole-English based tongue and it's word for wicked is "juke". Juke Joints are roadside establishments where food, liquor and dancing are offered to a rough and tumble soundtrack playing throughout the night. Now…one has to search high and low to try and find an authentic juke joint in New England, right? So where the Hell did The Mystix come from? Maybe Hurricane Katrina relocated Robert Johnson’s legendary crossroads in downtown Boston or perhaps this is another side effect of global warming (and, like less snow shoveling, a good one at that!) but Jo Lily and Company have just made things seem a little more Southern ‘round these parts. There’s Spanish moss hanging on the maple trees thanks to The Mystix and their wonderful new recording BLUE MORNING (Mystix Eyes Records) and songs they’re laying on us are all hot, humid and swampy.
This isn't some Bar/Jam Band affair either. These guys are seasoned pros at the top of their game. They bring the best kind of experience to their craft – that being the knowledge that the material has to be there in order to create something wonderful. Their equation is plain and simple: GREAT SONGS = GREAT PERFORMANCES.
It is song oriented roots-rock with the musicians paying service to the tunes instead of the other way around. In BLUE MORNING you won't find one endless guitar solo after another, but instrumental work that is delivered with power and panache by Jo Lily and New England phenomenon Bobby Keyes, who also co-produced the CD. Keyes’ solo on “Hi-Line” is by itself worth the price of the whole program.
“Yolanda” kicks it all off with a stunning plea from Lily to the quintessential black-magic woman to whom he’s painfully enslaved; she has “the lighting and the thunder that I just can’t do without”. It’s a great boogie groove that Mystix’s incredible rhythm section of bassist Marty Ballou and drummer Marty Richards supply, while the guitars of Keyes and Lily’s duel over the top of it all. This is rump shakin’ stuff and very “juke” indeed.
“Another Kind of Love” is quick to indicate why The Mystix (and the folks living on the North Shore of Massachusetts) are lucky to have Bobby Keyes playing with them, he is simply an amazing guitarist that stays true to the melody of the song in which he is playing. He can switch from “Surf-style-spaghetti-western” to Django Reinhardt-style hot jazz to kiss-ass rock riffs in the blink of an eye and never break a sweat. These kinds of players don’t come around that often (the late, great Danny Gatton comes to mind) and it is a privilege to hear him work. He is an in-demand session player and songwriter, who has worked with some of the best musicians this land has to offer, both past and current.
“A Change in Jane” is a standout ballad that wouldn’t be out of place on the last couple Bob Dylan albums, yes, it’s that good. Jo Lily’s hard-bitten voice bears a striking resemblance to latter day Dylan’s and the quality of the writing by he and Keyes is on par with the Bard of Hibbing, Minnesota. This haunting song, that’s just shy of three minutes, leaves you wanting more and reaching for the repeat button. Invoking strong visual imagery, there is a film out there just waiting for this song.
The Deep South shows it roots once more with “New Orleans”. The reeling and rocking rhythms evoke a Bourbon Street party in full force. The Mystix drive back the flood waters on this one and remind us of the Musical Heritage we remain horrifyingly close to losing. You can’t help but having some serious restless leg syndrome as the boys go in search of “the Fat Man” and call the displaced residents to “beat feet” back home to Bourbon Street.
The title track, “Blue Morning”, is a gentle, acoustic guitar-driven song of longing and leaving. What do you do after you “find your heart is crashed and burned in pieces on the ground” and you’re left with nothing but questions? What can you do, stay and take it, or wait until the dawn and head for the door? The answer is never an easy one, and Lily knows it, but this is the kind of song the gives you the courage to face a new day. “Blue Morning” is a classic sonnet of male heartbreak, the kind of song that Neil Diamond or Jimmy Webb used to write so well.
Shifting gears again, the album surprises you with, “Which Side of Heartache”, and its strong classic Country Music leanings. Over top of some “Floyd Cramer-esque” piano and beautiful slide guitar the band reminds us of the by-gone era in Nashville when quality songwriting actually meant something. It’s that kind of waltz-time weeper your father used to nurse his beer to at the local VFW. If only Country Radio would still play songs like these…
All these genre detours that The Mystix take are held together by a carefully crafted identity that Lily and Keyes have provided with an immaculate production. The band’s sound is always there, coloring every tune with a coherence that comes from the familiarity of playing together for many years. This is a bunch of musicians that obviously love the music their performing and each one of them gets a chance to shine on Blue Morning.
The CD’s two non-originals also reflect the stylistic diversity of the group’s approach. “I’m a Love You” by Jimmy Reed is the album’s most straight ahead “old school” blues number with Jo Lily vocal conjuring up the ghost of Howlin’ Wolf over top of some hot licks from Bobby Keyes. The other cover is “Rattled” by The Traveling Wilburys. Now the Wilburys were a chance for some old friends (Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison) to spend some studio time together and record a couple albums worth of lose-knit tunes. A similar situation was employed by The Mystix but there is nothing lose-knit about this effort and their version of “Rattled” is (blasphemy!) hands-down superior.
“Without You” has to be the album’s most playful song, with its good-time, sing-a-long tag. Lily’s lyrics are particularly tongue-in-cheek with lines like, “I’m confessin’, I’m stressin’, I just can’t seem to learn my lesson”. Creating smiles aplenty, this could make the summer last all the way to winter.
The end-cut, “Hi-Line” is a perfect closer. It’s a three-in-the-morning last call at our Juke Joint for,” the whiskey, the women and the wine”, as the band bids adieu and heads out the door for the mystical road that will take them to God-knows-where. If you like the stuff of Leon Redbone or early Tom Waits this one’s for you.
So “set ‘em up Jo” and let’s hope The Mystix will be back our way again sometime soon. Blue Morning is Juke (Wicked) good.
01 - Yolanda 04:55
02 - Another Kind Of Love 04:32
03 - I'm A Love You 02:50
04 - Change In Jane 02:56
05 - New Orleans 05:17
06 - Blue Morning 04:20
07 - Rattled 04:02
08 - Which Side Of Heartache 03:39
09 - Without You 03:03
10 - Hi-Line 04:05
The Mystix here: