It's hard to go wrong with a guy like Duke Robillard producing a project - especially when it's Duke's working band, one of the tightest and tastiest ensembles around, providing the backing.
Andy Poxon, he of the shockingly red afro (a signature look), is young, and doesn't look at all like the typical bluesman. Yet there's a remarkable maturity to his writing, his playing, and his singing - as Duke himself says in the liner notes, he's "a complete and mature musician at the ripe old age of eighteen years old."
Blues really isn't kid stuff, and most players, however talented, tend to require a bit of seasoning before they're truly believable. In that, Poxon is remarkable. Sure, his voice lacks the gravitas that comes only with age and experience. But his vocals are confident and assured, and his phrasing doesn't have that awkwardness that afflicts most younger blues singers. And while he might sing about being romantically replaced by a "College Boy," the song itself is a sturdy and thoroughly respectable slice of meaty rock 'n' roll.
Poxon wrote all of Tomorrow's fourteen tracks, one with Robillard's help. None are terribly surprising or innovative, but for the most part they're all strong compositions that borrow from but don't simply imitate standard templates. Most are swinging numbers, the kind that Robillard does so well, from the big and brassy one-two punch of "Too Bad" and "You Lied" that kicks things off, to the bouncy and breezy "All By Myself," and the jazzy jump of "Don't Come Home."
Robillard, who adds his own electric and acoustic guitar, also recruited several members of the Roomful Of Blues horns (Rich Lataille and Mark Earley on saxes along with trumpter Doug Woolverton) for the sessions. Poxon's guitar work is fleet and nimble throughout, and with the stellar backing of Bruce Bear on keys, bassist Brad Hallen, and drummer Mark Teixeira - all of whom have been with Robillard for years now - the upbeat numbers swing effortlessly.
Poxon also shows he's capable of more melodic numbers as well, crooning his way through the slow blues of "Please Come Home" with elegant aplomb, and delivering the country weeper "One More Time" with an appropriate ache. He's a little shakier on the poppy "Why" and the dreamy title track, if only because both demand significantly more of his voice. "Carol Anne" is the only tune that ventures into rock territory, a crunching number that lets Poxon cut loose with some genuinely impressive fretwork. He more than holds his own, too, on the bopping "Jammin' At Lakewest," the disc's closer and only instrumental, co-written with Robillard and featuring exhilarating interplay between the two guitars.
At only eighteen, Tomorrow proves Poxon is already an artist of significant accomplishment. It's a great sounding recording, tasteful and refined yet brimming with energy and excitement, and Poxon's guitar work is revelatory. He's still got some growing to do, but until then, Tomorrow will do just fine ...