Perennial blues sideman, Reese Wynans, has been the whirling heart of blues and country for the last 50 years. He may not be a household name, but you’d certainly be familiar with the people he’s lent his sparkly piano and Hammond B3 to -
Trisha Yearwood, Buddy Guy, Carole King, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and most recently Joe Bonamassa - to name a few. His soulful and sturdy
playing has been part of rock and roll DNA from the very beginning having played with an early incarnation of the Allman Brothers. With such a rich musical history behind him, it was time for Wynans to lay down a tangible legacy of his own. So he called up some friends, had Joe Bonamassa produce, and decided to cut his first solo album. The album focuses on songs that Wynans has a special relationship with and while the covers may be given a slight makeover, Bonamassa makes sure that when the multiplicities of vocals and guitars fade out Reese Wynans is there as the stoic keys man to take the melody to new heights. Bonamassa's production is first rate with each instrument coming across with crystal clear precision no matter how you choose to hear the album.
The standard of musicianship on offer is so high that it's impossible not to listen in awe at the sheer talent that is assembled on one album. The legendary Sam Moore lends his iconic vocal a soulful cover of the SRV track Crossfire. Say What! is a fruity instrumental with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Wynans blowing off some steam. The Otis Rush classic, You're Killing My Love, is put in the capable hands of Eric Clapton's sideman, Doyle Bramhall II, who features on guitar and vocals. It's a shining example of how often the supporting musicians bolster up the main act: it's a damn fine cover version too. The title track takes things in another sublime direction with angelic horns and equally celestial choral sound.
The album does everything to show of Wynans' skill and versatility and goes from blues rock to being jazzy a few tracks later in the suburb Riviera Paradise. Keb' Mo' also makes an appearance on the gloriously retro I've Got a Right To Be Blue. The loose and funk Soul Island would already be a perfect way to wrap up a superb album, but Wynans treats us to a solo encore of Blackbird with just him at the piano. It's one final exposition from a musician that is still on top form and who has hidden his light too long behind others. Sweet Release is required listening for fans, and for musicians, it's a masterclass in how to get right to the heart of the blues.
Groupie rating 4/5