Old Man Brown
Old Man Brown is a throwback to bands like the Allman Brothers and The Spencer Davis Group. The lead singer, Adam-Scott Wakefield, has a remarkable resemblance to Steve Winwood. I say this with fondness and appreciation for what this band accomplishes on their CD Return. Even though this band sounds like they come from somewhere in south, they hail from Baltimore. This validates the power of music and its influence, regardless of where you are from.
Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers, Solo) plays an important role in this band's success in the recording studio. The veteran performer and producer brings a lot to the table, and takes this already seasoned and capable band to the next level.
While you are taking in the words and stop to listen to the instrumental breaks, you find the music can be so much more complex when you compare it to the vocal expressions. The blues is very down to earth, and usually about women and the damage they cause to their male counterparts - usually due the weaknesses of their bad habits. "Like Bees To Honey", a self explanatory play on words, is a great tune. The acoustic slide guitar and harmonica are right on cue and on fire from start to finish. The rhythm section is incredibly good. Paul Lewis (bass) and Ben Woodbury (drums) are a good match for each other. Everything they lay down seems to get the rest of the band to fall right into sync with them, regardless of what time they are playing in. The Hammond organ's influence is huge on this album. After the rhythm section, Neel and Wakefield really crank on the keys, and from that point on Return is rambling down the highway with a full tank of high test.
Wakefield's vocals are perfect for everything that is going on here musically, and I still cannot get over how much the dude sounds like Winwood. It is quite refreshing actually to hear music with so much soul and reverence for its ancestors. Alexander Rankin and the multi talented Wakefield play some scorching blues-rock riffs on this album, and it just adds to all the other parts that are way above average for this genre, and in general musical terms it is off the charts pleasing. Obviously, the influence of Neel cannot be understated here, but when you already have a unit hitting all their cylinders to start with, it makes producing and contributing to a project that much more seamless, and it was surely a complete joy for Neel.