"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" might sound like faint praise for a musician, but in U.K. guitarist Matt Schofield's case, it's a compliment. Also, some things have changed since his last studio release two years ago. He recorded this one in New Orleans with veteran producer John Porter and brought in ex-Robert Cray drummer Kevin Hayes. Still, his alternately breezy/stinging blues flecked with a swinging jazz groove stays the same. Big Easy mainstay Jon Cleary -- who also made the trek from the U.K. to New Orleans, where he now resides -- contributes to a few tracks, but otherwise it's business as usual with Schofield tearing into fluid, biting guitar lines and wrapping far-better-than-average originals around his emotional yet boyish voice. He brings the ballad side of Jimi Hendrix -- think "Little Wing," "Angel," and "May This be Love" -- to his own "Dreaming of You," and writes a terrific slow burner in the seven-minute "Where Do I Have to Stand." He's a compelling guitarist, as is shown in the gradual intensity he brings to the two leads in that song which build to a fiery climax, but it's his imaginatively arranged, sharply written songs and distinctive vocals that put him so far ahead of the pack of fellow contemporary singing guitar slingers. Albert King's "Wrapped Up in Love" gets a wonderfully funky workout, helped immensely by Hayes' backbeat, and Steve Winwood's "At Times We Do Forget," an obscure track salvaged from Winwood's under-the-radar 2008 release Nine Lives, is Schofield's first stab at covering a relatively current tune. Deep-fried New Orleans funk seeps into "One Look (And I'm Hooked)," which finds the singer/guitarist digging into a rare baritone vocal to push the song into dark, swampy territory. It's given extra heft by longtime cohort Johnny Henderson's organ, and keyboard-bass work that is so much a part of Schofield's sound. Porter adds spacious and crisp audio that jumps out of the speakers, making even musty shuffles such as "Don't Know What I'd Do" connect with a freshness and snappy energy rarely captured in the studio. Only the stereotypical slow blues of "See Me Through," a perfectly fine "Stormy Monday"-influenced grinder, seems to be added just to establish Schofield as an old-school-influenced bluesman, something he can pull off perfectly well, but which doesn't utilize the songwriting strengths that make the rest of this superb album so rewarding.
AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz