Very few artists are able to dig deep into the history and tradition of American Music with such passion and supported by enormous talent like the American Guitarist and singer songwriter JD Simo.
The Nashville-based artist and winner of a Bluebird Reviews Award as Best Live Act does not need too much of an introduction to those passionate fans of contemporary Blues/Rock. Following a very successful stint with his then trio called simply Simo, in 2017 the guitarist disbanded the project, although keeping on working with long time friend and collaborator, one of the best drummers in the business Adam Abrashoff, to then starting a solo career that has produced remarkable body of works, such as Off At 11 or Mind Control, amongst others, together with earning high accolades from the worldwide music press for his contribution in the soundtrack of the biopic called "Elvis", about Presley's life and career.
Simo, since always a great admirer of the roots of Afro-American music and its pioneers who have influenced heavily his musical growth, has often performed live, while on Tour, some classics of the Blues and Funk, particularly of the 50's going right up to the 70's, adding to them his unique and very personal Rock-infused guitar sound always in a very imaginative and inspired fashion.
It doesn't come, therefore, as a surprise that the American singer/songwriter and guitarist has decided to incorporate some of said classics into his brand new album called Songs From The House Of Grease, a record that, despite his reduced length (it clocks off at short of 40 minutes), offers some of the most interesting and sonically highly seductive tunes that Simo has ever recorded in his career to date.
Under the collective name of JD Simo Trio (together with the aforementioned Abrashoff on drums, the guitarist also hired bassist Todd Bolden too on this record), Songs From the House Of Grease is a breathtaking, deep and occasionally atmospheric ride into the roots of more than half a century of American Jazz, Rock, Funk and Blues, the whole condensed into 5 tunes that define in full the artistic vision and improvisational skills of an artist such as JD Simo.
The opener Mortgage On My Soul, which is also the first single extracted from the album, is a marvelous homage to Mississippi Fred McDowell's original, in which Simo's slide guitar embraces Adam Abrashoff's powerful drumming by drawing an intense, percussive wall of sound of sensational scale, with Bolden's bass lines providing elegant finishing touches to the masterful job of Simo's Rhythm Section.
As a singer, Simo seems to get better and better on each passing record, as he shows on another tune of strong Blues matrix such as How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live, where Simo's vocals feel so powerful and recall rather wonderfully the depth of power that Blind Alfred Reed used to express in the song's original version.
John Coltrane's Afro Blue take, on Songs From The House Of Grease, is another brilliant and genial musical intuition from Simo and his trio. The impressive sound that emerges from this fresh and very organic cut feels as totally spontaneous and very much "First Cut" sound-a-like. Simo's guitar giants on the whole tune but it must be said that, once again, the Rhythm Section working with J.D. Simo does an outstanding job, especially through Abramshoff and his very imaginative and stylistically impeccable drumming. Contemporary Jazz/Rock at its very best.
While the original Missy's Strut, a wonderful instrumental Funk tune of 70's atmospheres cut by Simo and his trio is executed with effortless class by Simo himself, Abrashoff and Bolden, Simo and his trio provide even more sparkle and authentic musical fireworks on the closing track of the album, through a reinterpretation of JD Simo's own original, Higher Plane, originally published by the American guitarist on his self-titled 2020 solo record and here re-imagined in a new sonic dress. Conceived, on Songs From the House Of Grease as a suite, Higher Plane is here divided in two parts, where the tune displays, in its first part, the sound of the Detroit Rock scene of the early 2000, a sound that then flows into a raw and intriguing section of 70's Progressive Rock to then return to its almost Grunge-esque Detroit tone, with Simo providing some of his best electric guitar of his career to date. In the second part of the suite, the overall sound migrates decisively into a more improvised and imaginative Jazz-Funk instrumental session of incredible percussive intensity. with Simo expressing once again his incredible eclecticism as a guitarist, Bolden producing some excellent groovy bass lines and with Abrashoff showcasing once more such power and artistic finesse at the same time.
A very apt way to close an album like Songs From The House Of Grease that displays breathtaking sonic escapism, bags of talent, amazing improvisational skills of the highest level and such a depth of knowledge, appreciation and understanding from one of the most inspirational and visionary guitarists of this generation. Astoundingly beautiful and accomplished record.
Songs From The House Of Grease is out now and it is available to be purchased via Amazon