Steve Azar – Delta Soul Volume One (Ride Records)
by Steve Morris January 2013
Azar hails from the Mississippi Delta. His mom was raised above the family grocery store which just happens to be within striking distance of the crossroads. Not just any crossroads but those crossroads; you know guitarists, guitars, traded souls etc. Need more cred? OK. His cousins own the famous Abe’s bar which is bedecked with the Crossroads street sign and is the chosen watering hole for blues pilgrims famous or with a soul to trade.
Given all of that you might have already have Azar tagged as a neo –traditionalist and presume you know just what this album sounds like. Chances are you’d be wrong. Sure it’s steeped in the blues and the songs have a tendency to refer to the geography or traditions of the music a little too often perhaps, but the overall is a hugely likeable AOR cocktail of Allmans, John Mayer, Keith Urban with a hint of Paul Rodgers. In other words it’s a funky tight rhythm section topped with Hammond B3 and some fine guitar playing that never degenerates into the blues clichés the CV might have hinted at.
I’ve picked up many albums over the years that promised little for one reason or another and that don’t deliver anything new or particularly inspiring but I’d never part with; the musical equivalent of a great pair of Levis, maybe? Well, I’ve just found another to add to that list.