You'd be hard-pressed to find a harder working act than Vermont's Eames Brothers Band. The quartet -- which features two honest-to-goodness siblings -- constantly performs at venues throughout the Green Mountains. EBB's original blues tunes are remarkably soulful, which no doubt contributes to their demand. Their debut, Open Road, is chock-full of dextrous musicianship and authentic emotion.
Full disclosure: I think most modern blues sucks. Over the years, the genre has been bled dry by soulless hacks using its no-frills arrangements as a crutch for their own lack of imagination. This is hardly the case with the Eames Brothers, however. These dudes have passion, chops and an abundance of flavor.
The Eames' music is rooted in tradition, from sparse Delta blues to stinging electric shuffles. But ultimately their moody, dynamic tunes have a vibe all their own. The chord progressions are familiar, yet everything sounds remarkably fresh.
The disc opens with "Gonna Stay Up All Night," which has a yearning, romantic tone. Here, singer/guitarist Seth Eames channels Randy Newman's languid vocal style. Musically, it's bare-bones, with ragtime-style picking framed by Michael Owens' gentle percussion and Ralph Eames' understated bass line.
"Waitin' by the Roadside" gives aching solitude a jazzy makeover, while "West Wind" has a slight Latin feel.
The title track is an especially tasty cut. Guest keyboardist Ray Paczkowski of Vorcza conjures swirling sounds from his organ; Owens' percussion is fluid and in the pocket. Seth Eames serves up my favorite kind of lick: snaky and in a minor key.
"Another Round" features wonderful slide work and lyrics about boozin' and ramblin'. This is a blues band, after all. "Another round, another town, another lonely sun gone down," Eames gruffly croons.
Interestingly, the mood seems to get lighter as the album progresses. Like clouds parting after a prolonged rainstorm, later tracks arouse elation. "Worried Blues," despite its title, is one such example; "Goin' Home" -- which features feisty organ from regular keyboardist Ron Rost -- is another. "Earth Blues" is a slow, Chicago-style number that is likewise uplifting.
The album winds down with "Indian Summer Blues," which is as sultry as its title suggests. The tune would make excellent listening on those hot 'n' sticky evenings that are no doubt around the corner.
Open Road is a fantastic collection of original blues by a truly talented group. Don't miss the CD release party on Friday, June 30, at Burlington's Radio Bean.