I asked to review this album for two reasons. Firstly, one of the first bands that I ever heard live was John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and it has quite obviously left an affinity for the blues with me. Secondly, Ottawa is my favourite Canadian city. A wonderful capital city and one that is home to a quite remarkable blues band, namely Lucas Haneman Express.
The band is led by Lucas, an accomplished guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has written all the songs on this album with the exception of "Magic Carpet Ride" and Bryan Adams' "Run To You." The latter being given a totally different feel to the original. Lucas is supported in the band by Jeff Asselin on drums, Martin Newman on bass and Megan Laurence. All four members of the band contribute to the vocals and Megan's voice, best described as angelic, is not one that you would expect to hear in a blues based band. It does however work very well as is evident in "Firestorm" and gives the band a "stand out from the crowd" feel.
I have always felt that the blues is best played and heard in a live performance and this album delivers that feeling in spades despite being a studio recording. You get the best of both worlds; great music without the applause at the end of each track which if I am not present, drives me mad!
Lucas has been described by one sound engineer as "the greatest guitarist I have heard." Think Eric Clapton in his youth and at his best and you will understand this statement. Simple blues riffs or driving soaring guitar solos are all accomplished with equal skill by Lucas. His lyrics are never less than insightful and inspirational. This is best portrayed in the true blues track "Blind Man's Blues" where Luke muses autobiographically about his life as a visually impaired musician.
The band can do slow and melodic too. Listen to the delightful "Storybook Love" or "Love Shine" both of which bring the pace of the album right down. The final track on the album is "Working Band" which sums up this excellent bunch of musicians very well. Professional, musical and imaginative!
My feet started tapping on the first track and did not stop until the last note of the final track. If you like your music with a gritty, bluesy and edgy feel to it, then this Canadian band will suit you perfectly.
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