By Bman ~ www.bmansbluesreport.com
I just received the new release, This Time Another Year, from Brandon Santini and it’s a cooker! Opening with Got Good Lovin’, harpist Santini wastes no time taking a shot at contemporary harp champs like Magic Dick. A hot blues rocker, Santini has a cool voice and can really get the harp flaming. Bill Ruffino on bass and James Cunningham on drums hold down the bottom and Jeff Jensen flys through with some slick riffs of his own on guitar. This Time Another Year, along the lines of Help Me, is a great track with roots deep in the blues with really great harp tone. Santini holds the band back to a simmer as he builds the pressure vocally and then drop in on harp for the swat. Really masterful. Jensen coaxes some nice riffs from the strings and Santini has the control of Jim Morrison just waiting to unleash the dogs. What You Doing To Me, is a great New Orleans tempo track on chromatic harp. Santini has a real great sensitivity for when and how to reel in the track. Interesting guitar work backed by Victor Wainwright on vocal and piano makes this a particularly strong track. Late In The Evening, a slow blues track, really highlights Santini’s vocal work and really makes you wonder how this guy isn’t hugely successful already… or if you’re living under a rock. (Maybe I am!) This is a terrific track and Wainwright plays as nice a blues piano solo as you’ve heard in years. I mean this is terrific. Jensen has a nice sensitivity to this track and plays a strong but sensitive guitar passage. Up pops Santini to take it home. All I can say is wow! This is really really strong! Dig Me A Grave moves into the R&B style and Santini shows his versatility and style. Jensen opens with a really nice solo and Santini has such a strong voice… instrumentation overall.. and particularly intermittent riffs by Jensen (great tone by the way) and ongoing lead harp work from Santini make this a particularly airplay worthy track… and I like it too! Bye Bye Bird, an old Williamson/Dixon track gets a light acoustic guitar, drums and harp treatment. This release is just consistently really super. Things You Putting Down is a great New Orleans blues style track and again Santini shows that he has a really super voice. A really strong harp player, Santini shows that you don’t always have to be fast or high to get your point across. Jensen plays another solid solo on this track and the band remains contained. Been So Blue gets Santini out front right away and Jensen plays some really jazzy chords under the melody taking the blues to a richer spot. Santini gets his harp singing, showing a nice compatibility between the blues and it’s jazz brother partner. Help Me With The Blues is a really hot track. This is the kind of harp track that even people who aren’t hot on harp love. (Think Hoy Hoy Hoy or Wammer Jammer). This is a fast paced jump track and Jensen does his share of crankin the spring, followed by the superb Wainwright. Santini steps in and throws on the gas… ouch… that is hot!! Williamson track Raise Your Window (One Way Out) gets a Latin kind of beat and Santini again shines on vocal and harp. Taking it down low, Santini shows some real pyrotechnics. The final track on this outrageously cool recording is Fish is Bitin’, a cross between Cajun and Rock a Billy. Showing a nod to Ledbelly, this track is a cool wrap up for a really enjoyable and remarkable release. Excellent!