Jimmy Pinchak – Blue on Arrival

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Jimmy Pinchak – Blue on Arrival 

Longtime child actor Jimmy Pinchak, veteran of television and movies, first turned his hand towards recording with the release of Make It Better and his follow-up, Blue on Arrival, shows this performer is no dilettante or flash in the pan. The release’s nine songs cover a spectrum of blues styles while lightly filtering them through a rock prism, particularly in presentation. There are acoustic tracks with a lighter touch but the production presents much of Blue on Arrival as a redlined electric guitar blitzkrieg with a mammoth low end. Pinchak’s vocals are pumped up as well on those electrified numbers and he sounds like he’s right at your ear. The album’s lighter fare is so in volume only – much of the songwriting is serious, literal takes on elements of the blues tradition, but there’s often a sense, sometimes outright, of Pinchak winking from behind the musical curtain.  

There’s nothing of the sort early on. “Murder” kicks things off with a bloodbath of wailing guitar lines and tortured blues vocals about woman troubles. The lyrics might be a bit formulaic, but Pinchak delivers them like a suicide note and his lead guitar lines respond with equal ferocity. One of the qualities setting him apart from other guitar players is the feeling of utter focus that comes from his playing. Pinchak sounds like he is in another world when he is in full attack mode and could be playing to an empty room for all he cared. Blues music, to come off right, requires performers able to subsume themselves in its magic and gives themselves over wholly to the moment. “Hit My Stride” accomplishes similar goals. This is a song looking for a fight, the narrator beset by a hundred troubles from a hundred sides, and Pinchak throws himself into its delivery with glee and punch.  

He’ll get a lot of attention for his sure handed cover of the Delta blues class “Crossroads Blues”. Pinchak, thankfully, avoids trying out a full on Robert Johnson impersonation and, instead, takes the song over with a rough-hewn quality that helps better convey the song’s narrative. “Poison” has a killer live feel, as if they cut it all in the same room, and its impromptu sounding greatness is further supported by how inspired Pinchak’s guitar is. “I Can’t Stop” hits hard with the same kind of inspiration and the band’s talent for maintaining a steady groove is rarely stronger. “Poor One” and “Best I Could” are late stylistic variations that find Pinchak trying out a sweeter, solo acoustic piece and bleary eyed barroom blues on the latter. Pinchak’s vocals have an occasional tendency to overreach trying to achieve dramatic effects, but on these later tunes, he takes a more considered approach. Nowhere is that clearer than on the album’s last song, “Stuck in Glue”, where he plays the song’s tongue in cheek lyrics with just the right amount of attitude, but it isn’t a throwaway tune. His acoustic guitar playing on this song is a final treat. 

The album as a whole hits every mark a blues fan could hope for. Pinchak has versatility, skill, and his fresh faced good looks and improbable background make for a great story. It’s clear that, on the basis of albums like Blue on Arrival, Pinchak’s potential is vast.

 9 out of 10 stars.  

William Elgin

© James Pinchak 2012