Artists with the kind of determination and longevity of someone like Rod Piazza face the challenge of keeping things fresh for themselves and their audiences. Some succeed, some fail. Some artists routinely try reinventing themselves while others put down roots and mine a certain piece of musical acreage. The risk to the former is alienating audiences or losing track of their respective gifts and strengths in the pursuit of something "new" and the risk to the latter is repetition.
Piazza tells us in the liner notes to Almighty Dollar this album represents some of the finest blues he and his band have ever recorded in a career that's seen the veteran harp master hustling and working for 46 years and within the first few bars of opening track "Move Out Baby," it becomes clear Piazza has chosen to remain true to his roots.
I understand why it's doing well at radio. It's satisfying to hear these songs played well by a veteran like Piazza and his band but is there anything here to compel a blues fan with several of Rod's previous records in their collection to log immediately on to Amazon to order a copy of Almighty Dollar?
You'd probably go home happy if Piazza and his Almighty Flyers were to roll the songs from this album out as a set list at a show in a small theater or large bar but as a new album of music, there's something a little too familiar about it all. Almighty Dollar is long on fine, professional, skilled playing and short on interpretation whether playing a standard like "Ain't Nobody's Business" and "Confessin' The Blues" or lesser-known tracks.
Let me be clear: that doesn't make this a bad record; it's not. Piazza & The Almighty Flyers aren't taking many chances but they're not phoning it in. These are good songs, this is a good band, and you can cut loose and let yourself go. There's no reason not to buy it if you like Piazza or have the jones to add a new blues disc to your collection.
Almighty Dollar provides no real "wow" moments but you won't find any duds either. This is quality playing by a guy who knows how to do this- nothing less and nothing more.