Stoney Curtis / Stoney Curtis Band

Raw and Real

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Sometimes, promising debut albums are followed by disappointing second albums -- a problem that is known in the music world as the "sophomore slump" or "sophomore curse." But other times, artists who show promise on a debut album take it to the next level creatively on their second album, which is exactly what Stoney Curtis accomplishes on Raw and Real. In 2005, the Los Angeles-based blues-rocker (originally from Chicago) showed a lot of promise on his first album, Acid Blues Experience. But his excellent follow-up, Raw and Real, is an even stronger album from Curtis, whose long list of influences ranges from Jimi Hendrix, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Robin Trower to electric Chicago blues icons such as Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters -- and there are even traces of David Lee Roth in some of Curtis' vocals, which isn't really surprising when you consider that Van Halen had blues influences and included an arrangement of John Brim's "Ice Cream Man" on their first album. Although blues-oriented, Raw and Real is not the work of a blues purist; anyone who expects everything on this 66-minute CD to adhere to a traditional 12-bars blues structure will be disappointed. But one needn't be a rigid blues purist to be consistently blues-minded, and Curtis' passion for '60s and '70s hard rock as well as soul and funk doesn't decrease the amount of blues feeling that he brings to ballsy, hard-rocking selections like "Black Rose," "Girlfriend," "American Lady," and "That's Right" -- not at all. Curtis, who wrote or co-wrote all of the material, employs a wealth of blues feeling and blues imagery on Raw and Real, which is a consistently engaging sophomore disc from the Windy City native.

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