CD Review: Jimmy Hall Review – Ready Now
Review – Ready Now
Former Wet Willie front man and harmonica player Jimmy Hall has forged a successful but under the radar career since stepping out on his own. That’s about to change. Ready Now just smokes! Jimmy has never been better or on target, and this Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith produced Keeping The Blues Alive recording delivers, big time.
With numerous guest appearances including a quartet of guitar slingers, the recording starts off with an appearance by Josh Smith on “Girl’s Got Sugar.” This song sets the tone for the recording as Jimmy successfully transfers his non-stop stage show energy into this recording.
For me, the most entertaining song on the collection follows. “Jumpin’ For Joy “ may be the signature song on the recording and does not disappoint. The video released in support of this recording (filmed in Nashville as Jimmy walks down a street) is energetic with whimsical moments.
But Jimmy can get down and gritty as demonstrated on “Risin’ Up.’ Beginning with a nice keyboard lead in with a bluesy harmonica Jimmy shows off his soulful voice and delivers a most entertaining song. “Putting one foot in front of the other” Jimmy and co-writer Bonamassa (who lends sweet guitar licks to this recording) built a memorable song. One that quickly became a favorite.
Allman Brothers fans take note – “Dream Release” is a song co-written by Jimmy and his son Ryan Hall is a tribute to Gregg Allman and the friendship Gregg and Jimmy shared.
Former Allman Brothers and present Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes joins the party on the title track. “Ready Now” is a rock ballad that builds energy throughout, and this could become a mainstay in Jimmy’s shows. This song touches the soul and Warren’s slide playing is spot on, ending with his slide running down the fretboard to produce a sound and tone that is reminiscent of the ending to “Layla.”
Bonamassa and his bandmate, the legendary keyboardist Reese Wynans collaborate on “Holding on For Dear Love.” This soulful number shows how masterfully Jimmy can blend his voice into a band.
“A Long Goodbye” begins with Jimmy’s mournful harp followed by some of the best singing on this recording. Great lyrics set the mood on this ballad. Joe’s guitar brings an edge into the song, and the backend of the song takes on a different feel as Joe unleashes a blast furnace of hot licks.
The bluesy toe-tapper “Will You Still Be Here” is enjoyable and is followed by guitar virtuoso Jared James Nichols guesting on “Without Your Love.” Using a 12-string guitar, this song has a rock feel and left me wanting more from the duo of Jimmy and Jared.
At 48 minutes, this 11-song recording is a masterpiece. Non-stop fun from the downbeat and the depth and breadth of this recording is amazing. Accolades and awards should be forthcoming for Ready Now! It surely will have me “Keep on Smilin’”.
- Scott Morris, Treasurer, Suncoast Blues Society
Photo by Author. Big Blues Bender, Las Vegas 2021