Ruf Records’ blues and Americana standout Victor Wainwright is back with a new album, “Memphis Loud.” It was recorded at Music+Arts Studio in Memphis, co-produced by Dave Gross and Wainwright. All 12 songs are also written or co-written by Wainwright. The band (called “The Train”) is comprised of Billy Dean (drums, percussion, vocals), Terrence Grayson (bass, vocals), Pat Harrington (guitar, vocals), Mark Early (baritone sax, tenor sax, clarinet), Doug Woolverton (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Dave Gross (guitar, vocals, percussion).
Earlier this month, Wainwright received the Pinetop Perkins award for 2020’s favorite piano player by the Blues Music Awards.
The first thing I noticed was the production: It’s in my wheelhouse of sounding vintage and warm, but with modern recording and mixing techniques to keep it sounding fresh. The first song “Mississippi” swells in with Wainwright’s boogie-woogie piano playing and erupts into a full-on blues party. Check the box for opening track getting the energy going.
“Walk The Walk” feels very New Orleans with horns swirling, honky-tonk piano, and a bouncing Creole groove. “Sing” elicits a Roaring ‘20s (2020s?) cabaret feel. “Disappear” is a soulful, Leon Russell- or Stevie Wonder-type ballad. “Golden Rule” evokes shades of Otis Redding’s “Can’t Turn You Loose.”
Other highlights – “South End of a North Bound Mule” is quirky, funky, and showcases Wainwright’s sense of humor. “Recovery” would be welcome in a J.J. Cale set list, slinky and southern-fried. The record closes with “Reconcile,” which is another soul ballad number, very much in the vein of The Black Crowes’ “Seeing Things.”
It’s worth noting that Pat Harrington kills it on guitar on this record. He’s got the perfect melting pot of influences to go with Wainwright’s blues/soul/Americana/Creole/folk/country vibe. In short, in my finest guitar playing verbiage, the dude totally rips.
This is a very solid album. If you’re looking for some musical variety in your crooning, Victor Wainwright’s got you covered.
— Jon Siembieda
- Victor Wainwright and The Train
Label: Ruf Records
Released: May 22, 2020