Jimmy Pinchak – Blue on Arrival
Jimmy Jax Pinchak, since his debut release Make It Better, has solidified an ace lineup into The Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band. Like most of the best performers in blues history, Pinchak certainly excels in part thanks to the interplay he enjoys with sympathetic musicians. Natural talent, of course, plays an even larger role in the success of his second album, Blue on Arrival. Pinchak has progressed in every way. Make It Better certainly deserved notice for his gifted guitar playing, surprisingly developed songwriting skills, and well rounded ensemble performances. Blue on Arrival expands on all of these elements and combines them with far stronger production that seemingly drops the band down in your living room. This is raw, visceral stuff delivered with little pretense and maximum intensity.
“Murder” exemplifies Pinchak’s meat and potatoes approach. Blues is music about capturing the essence of an experience, among other things, and “Murder” does a perfectly acceptable job of depicting romantic struggle. There’s a seldom discussed theatricality to blues music as well and Pinchak’s ability to dramatize the genre’s conventions gives the opener and later songs a personal touch. “Hit My Stride” riffs on a basketful of standard blues imagery and cast its narrator in the role of hard-bitten outlaw battered by life’s fortunes. He stays hot with a superb cover of “Crossroads Blues” that doesn’t necessarily displace Robert Johnson or Eric Clapton from the blues pantheon, but it’s a testament to Pinchak’s considerable talents that he manages to carve out his own interpretation free from imitation. “Rock Me Down” swings with mountain-sized bluster and the strong groove is one example of the album’s abiding strengths. Bringing off a memorable groove requires a lineup absolutely on point with each other and these guys burn with apparently effortless chemistry. “Poison” is a long guitar workout taken at a turgid tempo, but its extended running time doesn’t make it a tedious experience. Pinchak is adept at eliciting a variety of sounds from his instrument and it often has such fluency that it seems like a choir of individual voices inhabiting each song.
“Poor One” goes the acoustic blues route, sans slide, and Pinchak’s solo performance makes its biggest impression thanks to the marriage of instrument and voice. His grizzled vocals never strain for effect and wrap themselves tightly around his melodic guitar work for very satisfying results. The album’s penultimate track, “Best I Could”, is a smoldering late night blooze ballad drenched in despair that contrasts well with Blue on Arrival’s finale. The song “Stuck in Glue” is a nervy, often funny, acoustic blues with restless energy and devil may care vocals. It’s a good finish to one of the best blues albums to come along in the last twenty years. Pinchak, at twenty years old, is perhaps a little too old to deserve the label “prodigy”, but his youthful exuberance mixes with an almost supernatural maturity to produce work much older performers would proudly tout. Blue on Arrival isn’t even his peak. There are many miles to go for The Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band to go and the promised land will be sweet indeed.
9 out of 10 stars.