06/24/2003 9:30p CT
Grey Cavitt - Reviewer
Jimmy Thackery has been playing the blues long enough to know it by rote. He can probably play this music in his sleep. Unfortunately, on True Stories, he sounds like he does exactly that.
Nothing here is incompetent, mind you. His backing band, The Drivers, can play their instruments, and every note is in place, but overall, the slick, lazy sound of this album rarely locks into a groove making it worthwhile for a listener to stay awake. The sound of this album is polished clean of any grit or grime, removing any trace of true blues that might have sparked this music, and the melodies are comfortable yet bland, neutering most of the songs of hooks or memorable passages. As a result, True Stories slides through its hour’s running time slickly but without finding a foothold in an audience’s attention.
The album does have a few exceptions, of course, but two of the stronger cuts are the first and last ones, and that can make getting between the two difficult. Thackery has a warm, gravelly growl somewhat akin to John Hiatt’s, and his voice is married to one of his better songs in the opening "Got It Going On". It is an enticing song, a pleasant if unexciting tune that lazily lures one into the album. The follow-up, "Blues Man on Saturday Night", though, lacks energy, despite Thackery’s claim to be “getting that juice,” and nice vocals cannot save "Baby’s Got the Blues" from blurring into a unfocused soft blues-rock song. By the time the smooth lament, "I Think I Hear the Rain", follows up with a loose, bland vibe that is anything by sorrowful or sad, one might well chuck the entire album.
Don’t, though, for even if the following six songs will do little to liven up affairs, Thackery has tucked away the killer here at the very end. The nine and a half minute scorcher, Roy Buchanan’s "The Messiah Will Come", is everything True Stories should be. Jimmy’s guitar slowly stretches out over the muddy, moody backdrop of the song, finally scorching toward the end. It is a terrific closer, and it is one of the only songs to escape the tiring cliché of verse-song-ending solo that helps load down the rest of the album. Listening to the final cut, one might jolt awake and demand to know why the rest of the album does not sound anywhere near this good.
True Stories, with few exceptions, is an average, inoffensive, bland modern bluesy album. Only a few songs are truly terrible, but then, only a few songs really stand out, and the entire album only really comes alive at the end. Here’s hope that next time, he starts where this album ends up and doesn’t save the true juice until the end.
Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
Jimmy Thackery and The Drivers
Released: May 27, 2003