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Jimmy Jax Pinchak – Blue on Arrival

Posted on April 11, 2016 by mrhodes

Jimmy Jax Pinchak – Blue on Arrival 

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It’s hard to stand out doing blues music. Longtime music fans, particularly devotees of the genre, have heard scores of great guitar players working in the area. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Leslie West, et al, are immortal figures in promoting blues music to largely uninitiated white audiences. Their predecessors, likewise, are legion and left an indelible mark on the form. The ultimate litmus test for new practitioners of the form is how and what distinctive personality to they bring to the table. Jimmy Jax Pinchak seems to exist in two camps. There are unreserved efforts to put his stamp on the music he loves scattered across his new album Blue on Arrival. They easily sit beside much more reverential efforts seemingly intent on raising the spirits of bluesmen long dead. Many influences are discernible.  

Pinchak is, without question, a major fan of the Three Kings – B.B., Albert, and Freddie. His inclinations lean more towards the latter two. The ghost of Albert King and his Flying V guitar rises some from the gut wrenching fretwork on the opener “Murder” while Pinchak is all strut and two-fisted attitude on the rough edged “Hit My Stride”. Pinchak pulls from the wide span of blues history for his influences and surprises no one with a cover of Robert Johnson’s epic “Crossroads Blues”. He does a fine job musically approximating Johnson’s chaos and despair, but the vocal suffers from a comparison. Anyone’s would. It is, however, a profoundly faithful cover that nonetheless bears the marks of an unusually gifted interpreter. He conjures a virtual storm with wickedly tangled slide guitar lines ideally suited for his raspy delivery.

“Rock Me Down” is a sure crowd pleaser with the album’s customary band swing in full effect. “Poison” is one of the album’s most impressive band performances and the individual members find frequent chances to shine as the outfit jams out on an album noted, to this point, for its brevity. Things take a muscular turn with another high point on “I Can’t Stop” and its spot on to hear how Pinchak and his band are able to flex their might on otherwise possibly innocuous slow numbers. This burns hot while retaining a lot of melodic swing. Pinchak shows off an easy affinity for lyrical blues in the mold of Mississippi John Hurt on the song “Poor Boy”, but the lyrics themselves set this apart as an original effort take a familiar form. The album’s final song, “Stuck in Glue”, has a more humorous spin than any of the album’s other tracks and it’s clear Pinchak has the ability to do this sort of material well. The song ends Pinchak’s second album on a light hearted note and it gives added variety to an album that sometimes plays like the work of someone consciously trying to do it all. If so, Pinchak succeeds. He covers all the blues bases on this album and never sounds inauthentic doing so.  

9 out of 10 stars. 

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David Shouse

© James Pinchak 2012