The blues is a wonderful genre that's so much more diverse than waking up in the morning, girls leaving and mourning a lost pet. There's those that play safe with 12 bar riffs and some light, flexible soloing. JD Simo not one of those guys. He is the king of crazy, loose, flying by the seat of your inspiration stuff. As the lyric on Accept suggests, 'don't plan, just improvise.' The album was recorded in three days and made to be devoured raw, straight out of the bag, with no edits or studio fixes. His debut solo album features everything from traditional blues to acid rock. Anyone who's heard his 70s inspired, psychedelia with his eponymous band will know his playing is artfully crafted and not concerned with being flashy. The real showman is the Gibson guitar that he intones with fervour.
Alternating between the moody, the funky and the incendiary, Off At 11 pay homage to Simo's love of the genre in all its guises. There are the obscure blues riffs of the 40s with a New Orleans flavour on Mind Trouble. There's the John McLaughlin inspired jazz fusion on Accept, BB King on You Need Love, and the excellent title is a fusion of styles par excellence. The opener, Boom Boom Out Go The Lights is the closest thing here to a fully structured song with the typical verse/chorus/midsection structure; but you've got to ease into the groove gently, right?
The explosive, yet stoic percussion section comprised of Adam Abrashoff on drums and bassist Luke Easterling allow Simo to take the lead this time. Having a guitar focus this time cements JD's relationship with the blues, and his interpretation of it, are like nobody else working in the genre right now. There's nothing 'off' about this album: it's fresh and ripe for the playing.
Groupie Rating 4/5