The Homemade Jamz Blues Band surprised just about everyone with their 2008 debut, Pay Me No Mind, a tough, no-nonsense set of garage-band blues that would do many a veteran outfit proud. That all three - aided and abetted by father Renaud – were so very young (guitarist/vocalist Kyle, the eldest, was 16 at the time, while drummer Taya was a mere 10 years old!), yet played the blues as naturally as breathing, seemed a small miracle.
They’re back with a follow up, and while there aren’t any obvious signs of musical growth, they deliver another well-executed collection of tunes written by dad (who also contributes rudimentary harmonica on a handful), with a cover of “Grits Ain’t Groceries” thrown in for good measure.
Most very young outfits try various approaches before settling on a recognizable sound, but with Reanud providing much of the artistic input, the sound here is very similar to the band’s debut. And it results in anomalies like sixteen-year old Ryan singing lines like “I went to my ex-wife’s house …”, or defiantly proclaiming himself a “Hobo Man.”
But the blues, as they say, is a feeling, and there’s simply no denying that the driving grooves and stinging guitar – nor Kyle’s surprisingly effective vocals – mine blue territory very well indeed. The landscape they’re navigating is simple enough - pretty well everything here adheres to twelve-bar convention, with driving rhythms powered by Kyle’s rock-solid bass work dominating. But they do it extraordinarily well, and with feeling. Ryan’s guitar work is lean and tough, and while Taya’s drumming lacks the subtlety that comes with experience, she’s versatile enough for the demands placed on her.
Renaud’s compositions are rather formulaic, though, and “Heaven Lost An Angel” is just plain bad. The band works very well indeed with what they’re given, but if there’s a future they’ll have to start looking further afield for material; grooves here start to sound the same after awhile, and again there’s not much variation from what they did on their debut. It’s worth noting that Renaud built the band’s homemade guitars (fashioned from old mufflers, Ryan’s is a two-necked wonder, while Kyle favors a five-string bass), but his harmonica work definitely belongs in the background, where it’s unobtrusive enough to be effective.