Album Review : Two Rivers Back
B. Christopher of The B. Christopher Band may not be a household name, but after the release of his new Contemporary Blues album, “Two Rivers Back" he deserves to be. This is the fourth release from The B. Christopher Band, and while his first three records took on the feel of Contemporary Jazz, “Two Rivers Back” brings him back to his roots with the Blues. B. has enlisted an All-star cast of musicians; all of which only enhance his subtle yet sophisticated guitar playing.
The album opens up with an instrumental track called “Newbie’s Funk” which is a funky head bobbing tune with a catchy melody that will be stuck in your head for days. What B. leaves out with lyrics in this tune, he makes up for great melodies on the guitar.
The album then moves in to a track called “Tried To Keep You Satisfied”, which with the help of E.J. “Moose” Boles on vocals portrays the path of moving past a failing relationship. A point we can all relate to, in which you have given your all and just have to call it quits. The third track “Sad State of Affairs” feels like a smokey bar room in Louisiana. Andy Snitzer on the Tenor Sax seems to know exactly when to play to add an essence of mischief in the air. B. plays a solo in Sad State that takes on a Mark Knopfler vibe, only to have an exclamation point tacked on at the end by a roaring solo by Snitzer on the sax.
The fourth track “Bit O’ Butter” is a slow shuffle which lets Bruce Katz add an airy quality with his key work. “Bit O’ Butter” is a great example of how B. can draw emotion from the listener without overplaying or blasting the listeners ear off. You can hear the David Gilmour influence in his playing on this tune. The fifth song is the only solo song where B. doesn’t have his band behind him. Titled “She’s Gone”, is an acoustic slide guitar song that is a total highlight on the record.
Track six “It’s Alright” picks up the feeling of despair that the last two tracks left you feeling, with a foot stomping, high energy, thumping shuffle. The ending of this tune really shows why Bruce Katz is one of the hardest working Pianists in the industry right now. “It’s Alright” leads right into another tune which is sure to make you dance titled “I’m Drunk”. The tune starts with a catchy horn arrangement, a groovy drum beat by Anton Fig, and a twangy solo by B. Christopher.
Track eight is the first time we hear Michael Powers make an appearance. There is a certain “slinky” quality to this tune that makes you want to listen to it over and over again. Track nine, “Perfect Curves” is another song straight out of the Stray Cats playbook. I will say that the drums seem to steal the show on this one with drummer Shawn Pelton (of the Saturday Night Live Band).
Track ten feels more like a Bruce Springsteen esc. singalong rather than a blues tune, which makes perfect sense that Asbury Park’s own Eddie Testa would be singing on it.
Track eleven “Strike Two” is an instrumental song featuring Nathan East on bass. Although this track feels like a bit of a slow start, the band really comes together around the halfway point, where B. kicks it up a notch in his playing. B.’s soloing in this track really shows that even though for most of this record he holds back his playing in his venture to play more tastefully, he can still turn it on when he needs to.
My personal favorite off of “Two Rivers Back” is track twelve; “Twenty Eight Days.” From the first words that Michael Powers sings “Twenty Eight Days, and Twenty Eight Nights. It’s been four weeks since the lie. It’s not the things you took, it’s the things you’ve left behind,” this track evokes the heartache that every good blues musician strives to accomplish.
Overall “Two Rivers Back” is a completely solid album from start to finish. B. takes you on a journey that hits the blues mark when needed, but also expresses his other sides to playing the guitar.