The Reverend Shawn Amos is the real blues deal. His father may have been the “Famous Amos” of the chocolate chip cookies, but Shawn Amos is making his own fame. Let’s get it straight to start with that the Reverend is not playing traditional gospel or preaching traditional gospel, though there’s some gospel roots in there, as well as some rock and jazz. But at the bottom (and this CD does, as Amos says in the liner notes, have a “big bottom and a big heart”): this is blues.
Things start out with “Day of Depression,” which sounds like a traditional work song and features The Blind Boys of Alabama on backup vocals. Having established that he can do that, Amos then delivers “Brand New Man,” with an R&B groove and a powerful horn section that is bound to get you moving. “Boogie” brings on the contemporary blues with Amos showing off on the harp and Missy Anderson adding some heat to the vocals.
“Brothers’ Keeper” takes us to Memphis with some soul and delivers the Reverend’s message loud and clear: “I’m gonna lead with my heart, open my hand from the start, and be my brother’s keeper.” Things just get really funky with “You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home)” as Amos calls out an unfaithful lover and once again employs that wailing harmonica to good measure.
It doesn’t get bluesier than a prison song. As such, Amos is appropriately doleful on his cover of Minnie Lawler’s “Joliet Bound,” with Chris “Doctor” Roberts showing his skill on the six-string as well. Missy Anderson returns as guest on “Will You Be Mine,” which is Southern rock with lots of reverb and some more great harp.
In case all that secular love didn’t prove this was no gospel record, “Outlaw” will as Amos takes on a swaggering, menacing role as an outright bad man. The cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights Big City” then lightens things back up again with the sweet voice of Mindi Abair joining Amos for a charming duet. The swinging shuffle of “Hollywood Blues” underlines the scalding lyrics as Amos outlines the difference between those who have and those who have not in the famous city, punctuated by Abair’s alto sax. “Put Together” is a funky, sexy number and “The Last Day I’m Loving You” ends it all on a soulful note.
The Reverend Shawn Amos surely delivers the blues and lifts up and nourishes the soul. This is a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable album that belongs i n your collection of contemporary blues.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B013UCAIOC]