CD Review: Blinddog Smokin' - High Steppin'

High Steppin' is a fun, funky slice of Americana.
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One year after backing Bobby Rush on his Grammy-nominated release, Decisions, Blinddog Smokin' returns with an eclectic set of their own, High Steppin'. The album - the band's 11th - mixes blues, rock, funk, country and Americana with virtuoso musicianship and features lyrics that show the band's tongues are firmly planted in their cheeks. The album, which was produced by Grammy-, Golden Globe- and Oscar Award-winning writer, Donny Markowitz, features additional contributions from Hall & Oates guitarist Shane Theriot as well as New Orleans pianist David Torkanowsky.

The album opens with the horn-driven funk of "Pimp Shoes," a song front man Carl Gustafson describes as being not about pimps or shoes, but, rather, attitude. Gustafson's vocal offers a gritty air of confidence, echoing his sentiments about the track perfectly. "Bayou Lady" mixes a funk groove with a New Orleans swampy feel and showcases some killer harmonica from Billy Branch.

Gustafson's world weary vocals on "Don't Put No Money On Me" recall Tom Waits and highlight the band's lyrical sense of humor. The song is a true story tale of an ex soldier who had fallen on hard times. He was able to save everyone but himself and that is reflected in the lyrics, which offer a humorous take on a depressing slice of Americana. Less serious subject wise, but equally amusing is the country tune, "Big Behind," an ode to ladies displaying their assets on bar stools at honkytonks across the country.

"If I Died Today" ponders mortality, wondering who would show up to his funeral if he were to suddenly pass. The song is a heavy blues track and is one of the highlights on the disc. Along those lines are "Tell 'Em Shuffle" and the album closing "Tell 'Em Reprise." Both tracks stress the importance of telling your loved ones you love them while you still have the chance to. The former is a gritty blues romp featuring some killer lead guitar while the latter takes on a gospel tone, ending the album on a spiritual note.

Blinddog Smokin's High Steppin' shows a band at the top of their game, as they deliver multiple genres of music with humor and skilled musicianship. The CD is a fun ride from start to finish and will have listeners dancing and smiling throughout.