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Carson Downey Band: All the Way

REVIEW: Carson Downie Band: All the Way
1.17.2002 by Sean

The Carson Downey Band : All the Way [Loggerhead Records, 2001]

Two words? High energy.

"High energy" is a phrase that's used a lot in music reviews, but I can't think of any more fitting description for The Carson Downey Band's debut album, All The Way. You notice it right from the beginning. The opening (and title) track is an example of traditional 12-bar blues, but with an extra helping of energy. And it never lets up. Even on the relatively mellow "I'm Sorry", Carson sounds pretty damn excited about being sorry.

Part of this energy is derived from the explosive mix of blues with other styles. There's a pervading rock feel throughout the album. The backing vocals on "Freedom" add a touch of gospel. The Hammond organ on "Hit and Run Lover" adds a touch of funk. The horn section on "A Little Understanding" adds a touch of soul. And over it all Carson Downey's clean and flawless guitar playing and vocals soar and wail.

If there's anything wrong with this album it may be that it's a little too clean and flawless. When I think of the blues I think of dingy smoke-filled bars in which you can drown your sorrows in drink and music. "Polished" is not a word you would use to describe such a place, but it is a word you would use to describe this album. The blues should be gritty and down-to-earth. But the album's 10th track, "Dirty Low Down Shame", doesn't sound either dirty or lowdown. I want to hear the smoke and grit in the music. I want it to sound real. Instead I hear the pristine and artificial environment of the recording studio.

All The Way is an excellent album, but in trying too hard to make it perfect The Carson Downey Band falls a little short of perfection.

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