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CD Review Jimmy Thackery

Jimmy Thackery - In The Natural State

Reviewed By Scott Homewood

While you might consider former Nighthawk guitarist Jimmy Thackery's "Natural State" to be blues, you wouldn't be totally right although most would understand your reasoning. He ran electric shotgun for the towering blues giants The Nighthawks for almost two decades and even though he split with the hard-touring band in the late '80's, it remains the way most people remember Thackery. Since then, he has been a solo act and has put out many, many albums under his own name (with various backup bands such as the Assassins and the Drivers) and has carved out a remarkable blue-collar blues niche for himself ever since. Relying on his down-to-earth lyrics and his gritty guitar work, Thackery has risen from the world of bar band blues (albeit the bar blues kings non-pareil The Nighthawks) to another level entirely and is one step away from being a major player of Stevie Ray Vaughan-type proportions. One unlikely hit, one movie appearance, one guest shot on someone else's album of note and he is in the mainstream where his type of solid roots rock and blues belongs anyway.
For this album Thackery is teamed with the Cate Brothers rythym section for a pure Arkansas bluesfest. As on every Thackery album, he has chosen some choice covers to go along with his well-written originals. In this case, he has picked Howlin' Wolf's "Howlin For My Darlin'" among a few others for exhuming but, to be sure, the strengths on this record are in Thackery's own material. The two strongest songs to my ears happen to be the ones that bookend the disc. The opener "Out of Mississippi" is a killer as is the almost doo-wop-styled closer "Tell Me Goodbye" and what's in between kicks a fair amount of ass as well. The Cate Brothers provide fine backing for Thackery and one hopes this teaming will be continued as the cates provide the right kind of steamroller backup when needed as well as some funkier fare when it's called for. The trio makes a for a very eclectic, almost comprehensive rock and roll history lesson covering some rockabilly, blues, roots rock and straight up bar-band-boogie. While Thackery's singing often leaves something to be desired, his distinctive voice sounds very authentic and natural for his brand of blues and rock, where perfection is often not the best thing to shoot for.
Anyone who likes blues or is into the roots rock of people like Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt or Joe Grushecky will find a lot to like about this record. As he matures Thackery is becoming quite the rock and blues spokesperson for the everyman. While this album could never be considered a classic, it is a wonderfully solid album that stands head and shoulders above most contemporary blues releases. Pick it up and see for yourself.




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