The Twisters have a tragic connection with Metallica. A semi-truck struck the vehicles transporting the band to Prince George, critically injuring drummer Matt Pease and killing bass player James Taylor. Taylor is survived by his wife and one-year old daughter. No one would have blamed the band for calling it quits, and they did consider it. In the end, they decided to forge ahead and After the Storm is the fruit of that perseverance.
The album opens with "I'm Your Man," a hip re-write of Diana Ross & The Supremes' "The Way You Do The Thing You Do." The first time I listened to this song, it screamed Las Vegas/Rat Pack to me. This song would have been great for the Swingers soundtrack ("Mikey's the big winner, Mikey wins."). Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl's smooth vocal and wailing harmonica smolder and Issak's guitar oozes coolness. Listen to this without a cigarette in your left hand a scotch in your right and you're hearing it wrong.
Harmonica is one of the building blocks of the blues, but it seems to have fallen out of favor in contemporary blues. The streets are awash in would-be blues guitarists, but a "Harp Player" is a rare find. Hoerl is refreshing because blues harp is hard to find these days, but he is no novelty. His playing is energetic, efficient, and soulful. In other words, this traveler of the blues is the polar opposite of a Blues Traveler. Hoerl is the last of the original Twisters, and his signature harp and smooth vocal are centerpieces of the band's music.
My eyes glazed over and the songs would run together around the midpoint of the record the first few times I listened to it. I could never figure out if that was because the album got monotonous or if it was an attack of my short-attention span. I wanted to be fair to the record because it certainly had its good points so I tried a little experiment. Rather than listening to the album from beginning to end, I put it on shuffle to see what impact different songs might have when played in random order. I'm ready to blame my coma on my own fractured little mind. Songs like the penultimate track "Nobody" provide all the proof one needs that the band had enough ideas to run through 12 songs and 50 minutes.
The Twisters brand of blues shuffles and grooves, but with a sophistication not common in the genre. After the Storm is not a sorrowful eulogy of their fallen comrade filled with guttural moans and tortured wails. There's a joy, a sweetness, a warmth to the music. They don't sound like they're going through the motions any more than they sound like there's a hellhound on their trail. The Twisters don't sound like a band playing like their life depends on it, maybe because they know better. It's a pleasing record filled with charm, tunes, and some great harmonica.