A blues base
Reviewed July 2009
At Least I'm Not With You
By The Insomniacs
Delta Groove: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
The Insomniacs are a Portland, Ore., blues-rock outfit that mixes jump blues, boogie and "West Coast" style blues in its repertoire.
Built around lead singer/guitarist Vyasa Dodson, the group has released two discs, including 2007's "Left Coast Blues" and a new one, "At Least I'm Not With You." Dodson is clearly the focus of the show here, and plays clean, economical and incisive guitar lines on tune after tune. His style expands on the style of Robert Cray and sounds much like Junior Watson, whose work with such figures as Kim Wilson, William Clarke and Canned Heat has earned him big cred in blues circles. Dodson is a star on the rise.
The thirteen tunes lean heavily on Dodson's vocals, and he is a decent but not overwhelming singer. He spares the listener some of the affectations of a young singer trying to sound old, or trying for ethnicity that isn't there, instead going with an earnest approach that sounds a bit like Elvin Bishop. "Broke and Lonely" is a representative example, sounding like the group guested Bishop on the tune.
The other songs spotlight Dodson's solos and some good keyboard work by Alex Shakeri, only adding horns on four of the tunes. The title tune is a highlight, a mid-tempo tune that punches all the right buttons, with a horn section giving extra bottom, and a great guitar break. "Root Beer Float" is an instrumental boogie with a jump beat that features Dodson's interesting, staccato scales. Another tune that stays with the listener is the frisky "She Can Talk." An unusual approach is taken on "Angry Surfer," another highlight cut with a surf drum beat and guitar used on a blues stomper with traditional lyrics, Dodson carving out a solo that recalls '60s surf tunes with some blues bending for an exotic flair.
The Insomniacs manage to keep things interesting and fresh on this blues-based disc. Dodson and company are sure to draw plenty of attention in blues circles if they keep putting out this kind of music.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.