Sunday, January 2, 2022

Sean Chambers - That's What I'm Talkin About

Having been a member of Hubert Sumlin’s band from 1998 to 2003, Florida’s Sean Chambers decided to record a tribute to his mentor with his 2020 album That’s What I’m Talkin About.  But the result is something that follows its own path, rather than being in thrall to Sumlin’s relatively restrained blues style.  Chambers is more of a blues-rocker, and puts his own stamp on the material in entertaining fashion.
Given that Hubert Sumlin was the long-time guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf, the vocals will inevitably be as much a point of comparison as the guitar playing on some of these songs.  The Wolf’s
Sean Chambers doin' the do!
voice was more bear-like roar than lupine howl, and unsurprisingly Chambers doesn’t inhabit that ballpark.  But the snarl-meets-growl that he brings to the opening ‘Howlin’ For My Darlin’’ is convincing in its own right, contributing to a shaken-rattled-and-rolled vibe that’s often redolent, to these ears, of vintage Dr Feelgood.
The aforementioned ‘Howlin’ For My Darlin’’, fer instance, is all jagged, spiky guitar chords and driving rhythm section, supplemented by waves of organ.  ‘Hidden Charms’ rattles along with cracking, cantering drums from Andrei Koribanic and bounding bass from Antar Goodwin as the basis for Chambers’ scratchy riffing and sharp, to the point soloing.  ‘Rockin’ Daddy’ is in a similar vein, with more force and more beats per minute than the loping, swaying Wolf original, all the way to its sudden ending.  And if ‘Do The Do’ is less full throttle, it’s still a shaken’n’stirred cocktail of shuffling, Diddley-esque drums and skating slide guitar breaks.
Elsewhere, there's more of a blues-rock raunch to tracks like ‘Sittin’ On Top Of The World’, with its big meaty chords, thumping drums, and skimming, squealing solo; ‘Goin’ Down Slow’ with its scrabbling guitar fills and waves of organ like Big Surf set to a slow-ish tempo; or ‘Tail Dragger’, which features one of Chambers’ most interesting solos, with a succession of bent notes and sudden jabs, plus some exchanges with swirling organ work.
‘Forty Four’ and ‘Louise’ are the most Wolfish takes.  Chambers and co deliver an excellent rendition of the former, with its spiky, almost wonky riff, rippling piano, and a slamming kick drum at the heart of its slow march rhythm, while the latter is a slow bump’n’grind with ringing, resounding guitar, tootling piano, and a squall of a guitar solo to close.
‘Chunky’ is a surprisingly funky Sumlin instrumental, the drums behind the beat while the bass is busy, leading to a sweeping organ solo and some FX treated guitar work from Chambers.  And the closing ‘Hubert Song’ is a tribute written by Chambers – an uptempo, bouncing boogie, and affectionate if prosaic lyrics.
Never mind that That’s What I’m Talkin About is a Hubert Sumlin tribute, it’s enjoyable fare in its own right.  Sean Chambers and his band bring plenty of energy, oomph and chops to proceedings, rounded out by guest turns from Bruce Katz and John Ginty on keys.  It may not be a showstopper of an album, but it does add a fresh and zesty dressing to some classic ingredients.
That’s What I’m Talkin About is out now on Quarto Valley Records, and can be ordered here.

No comments:

Post a Comment