Harrison Kennedy

Sweet Taste

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Since Harrison Kennedy was one of the singers in the Chairmen of the Board, many casual listeners would reasonably assume that this solo effort is a soul record. It isn't, although it's soulful. It's actually pretty pure blues, Kennedy not only singing but also playing acoustic guitar. And it's quite good, Kennedy singing with admirably unforced passion, and a good amount of emotional range, on a set of entirely self-composed material (with the exception of a cover of old friends Holland-Dozier-Holland's "I'm the Chairman"). The production is commendably down-home and unfussy, the songs gritty and hard-hitting, with spices of New Orleans gumbo ("Sweet Taste"), work songs (the eerie "Commercial Tools"), foot-stomping Delta country-blues ("Silvie"), churchy deep soul ("Bending Down Low"), and some excellent Hammond organ by Keith Lindsay (particularly his choked swirl on "One Time Affair"). When a Canadian CD such as this one bears no label name, catalog number, release date, or contact address, it's a safe guess that it might well be suffering from serious obstacles in gaining wide distribution (though it certainly is legit, as it does have a bar code). That's a shame, because in its unfettered, organic approach, it's better than many early 21st century blues albums that garnered Grammy award nominations. That might say at least as much about the Grammies as it does about Kennedy's album, but make no mistake: this is a good contemporary blues record, well thought-out, imaginatively eclectic, and well-produced despite the vanity-press-like feel of its packaging.

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