CD Review -The Sun is Shining Down by John Mayall

Feb 3, 2022 | CD Review, Suncoast Blues Society

The Sun is Shining Down

John Mayall 

The final days of the first month of 2022 brought out what could end up being the recording of the year.

John Mayall pulled together an all-star cast of musicians to guest on The Sun is Shining Down. One world class musician after another led to a world class recording that does not disappoint.

Hungry and Ready is an apt title for a song that will leave you in both states for more of what John Mayall brought us on this collection. The first track is an up-tempo song with horns backing Melvin Taylor’s hot licks and will have you tapping along to the beat. A tasty morsel to kick off this outstanding collection. Melvin Taylor may be the best guitarist few know about.

Young guitar slinger Marcus Kings chips on Can’t Take No More. Oh, yes, I can! Backed again by horns the second track pushes the beat and highlights Marcus and his guitar around John’s crafty lyrics.

The funky Bobby Rush song I’m as Good as Gone features Nashville-based guitarist Buddy Miller and his baritone guitar on an instrument built to match John’s vocals.

The tempo slows down as violinist Scarlet Rivera (Bob Dylan’s “Desire”) contributes on Got to Find a Better Way. The violin solo reminded me of Dylan’s 1976 recording. John’s understated vocals fit perfectly with the lovely playing Scarlet contributes. Well done, and most enjoyable.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell joins on the blues-rocker Chills and Thrills. Stinging guitar licks on this one.

The sixth track was well worth the wait as John has included a collaboration with Hawaiian ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro. One Special Lady is one special song. This song gets better note by note as Jake’s ukulele cooks.

A Quitter Never Wins is the sole song on this recording that does not feature a guest musician. A soulful harmonica backs this slow blues ballad. Wonderful lyrics such as “I know you want to quit me baby, but you know a quitter never wins.” What blues lyrics, but fans of John’s will not be surprised by this prose.

Scarlet Rivera returns for Deep Blue Sea. The song has is a nice keyboard solo with two solos by Scarlet wrapped around it.

Melvin Taylor and his perfect guitar fretting return for Driving Wheel. Backed by horns this song has a big blues band feel to it. I turned the volume  way up on this one. Outstanding!

Closing out the recording is Texas guitarist Carolyn Wonderland on The Sun is Shining Down. This blues number has a measured guitar by Carolyn, a wonderful beat, and memorable lyrics from John.

To paraphrase John from the last track “you really hit the bullseye” with this recording. Well done. John has raised the bar, and raised it high, in the race for best recording of 2022.

  – Scott Morris, Suncoast Blues Society