Two of the Phoenix-area’s most interesting musicians have new albums out and both records have been released on a vibrant Phoenix-based label. The latest from Bruce Connole, a longtime fixture on the Arizona music scene and a member of famed area bands like the Revenants, Cryptics and the Jetzons, has been released by Fervor Records while the new effort from Gilbert’s own Shorty K is on the Electric Lotus label.
Bruce Connole The Narrow Road
Set to a swaying rhythm and with Connole playing bluesy guitar, “Dead in the Water” is a slow swamp rocker where Connole sings from the viewpoint of a man who’s calmly accepting that the dire situation he’s in is his unchangeable fate. The song’s chorus provides a great hook but it is Connole’s vocals elsewhere in the song that really make for a standout; he sounds like he’s only one cross word away from being pushed over the edge into a psychotic break.
“I’m Gonna Ride” finds Connole in a totally different mood; here he plays acoustic guitar as he conjures the ghost of Hank Williams, singing over a bed of old-timey barroom piano provided by vaunted keys player Brad Buxer (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder.) Other standout tracks include “Way Things Are” and “Road of Circumstance” which at first listen seems to move to a Tex Mex groove but really is more akin to the romantic melodies heard in Continental Europe.
Shorty K Full Custom Boogie
If you’re already a fan of guitarist Shorty K you know that he’s spent a couple decades fronting rockabilly outfit Voodoo Swing. This time out though he’s made a blues album and a pretty darn good one at that, anchored by songs like “Boomerang” where a Stevie Ray Vaughan-like electric blues groove gets infused with Memphis soul as the Tina Turner-channeling Kenyata Christina wails on lead vocals.
“Heavy Load” is an early-‘70s style blues rocker reminiscent of pre-superstardom Steve Miller while “Sinner Hopin’ to be Saved” is a harmonica enhanced acoustic Delta blues number where Shorty’s vocals are appropriately understated and world-weary. “Quit Jivin’ Me” also sounds like it’s inspired by the same elder bluesmen who inspired Stevie Ray; that’ll be of no matter to the folks packing the dance floor when Shorty plays the song live.
Full Custom Boogie officially drops on Dec. 15 but fans can hear some of the new music live and buy the CD when Shorty K plays a release party show at the Rhythm Room on Dec. 13.