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Music Review: The Twisters – Come Out Swinging

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Canada’s favorite jump-blues band is back, and Come Out Swinging they do indeed, with a high-energy collection that’s both a non-stop blast of fun and a thoughtful and satisfying musical feast.

Led by harmonicist and vocalist Dave Hoerl (though he’d likely credit the band’s success to a true team effort), the Western-Canada-based Twisters seamlessly combine light-hearted fare like the irresistible bouncy “I’ll Make It Up To You” with more serious subject material (“Something’s Gotta Give,” a look at the everyday plight of those struggling to make ends meet). Whatever the topic, though, the all-original playlist invariably swings with infectious enthusiasm and instrumental aplomb to spare.

The swaggering “Long Overdue” is powered by big horns expertly arranged by saxophonist Jerry Cook, while “Doghouse” is a rockabilly romp perfectly suited to howling at the moon from the roof of same. “Guess That I Was Wrong” rides an in-the-pocket shuffle groove for all it’s worth, but Brandon Isaak’s guitar work and Hoerl’s harp are exemplary – they actually manage to make a shuffle sound fresh and new, with subtle but thoroughly unique shadings from both.

There’s another rockabilly rave-up (“Matter Of Time,” with Keith Picot providing the requisite doghouse bass), jaunty jump blues (“Kiko,” “Twister’s Theme”), and “Take My Own Advice,” a surprisingly effective, reggae-inflected slice of romantic counsel. There’s gospel fervor behind “Party Goin’ On” (the party, one might say, is out of this world), and an appropriately funky strut on “Dirty Boy Blues.” The all-acoustic “I Refuse To Get Old” will resonate with those of a particular age, as Hoerl states his steadfast intention to flout the aging process with equal parts humor and defiance.

The boys are an augmented aggregation here, with guest Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne’s keys particularly notable. But it’s the core quartet – Hoerl, one of the most consistently incisive and inventive harmonica players around, Isaak (who handles more than half the vocals as well), and Picot, anchored by relatively new drummer Lonnie Powell – who provide the essential swing that elevates everything here. Even at slower tempos, sheer exuberance is never far below the surface, and there’s an inescapable sense that everyone’s having the time of their lives.

The blues, as a relatively fixed genre, can be pretty stale in the hands of those content to rehash. The Twisters, though, invigorate time honored forms with irrepressible energy and a genuinely innovative approach that’s full of ideas yet never fails to aim the beat straight at the feet. Very highly recommended!

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