When I was a kid, the old timers called it “mojo”. Merriam-Webster would define that as broadly speaking, “magical power”. Muddy Waters declared that he had his mojo working, and just a short time after that, Lightnin Hopkins told me he was going to Louisiana, gonna get him a mojo hand. Theguardian.com reports in regards to Robert Johnson “Legend has it that Johnson took his guitar to the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi where the devil retuned his instrument in exchange for his soul. He returned with a formidable technique and a mastery of the blues.”: Mojo, if you will. You see the blues plays to human emotions at such a deep level that there has to be some magical element associated with it. I first encountered the mojo as a very young man when I heard BB King, who was the portal through which I would find the mojo. BB almost magically guided me to Otis Rush, and John Lee Hooker, then Lightnin Hopkins, later Milton Campbell, and on and on I would travel as if I had become entwined in some magical electrical current. 50+ years after hearing BB King, the current is as strong as ever in my heart and soul. There is no music quite like the blues, which is why I have spent much of my life writing about it.

I read where veteran Texas blues guitarist/singer/songwriter Shawn Pittman was discussing his latest release “Make It Right”, which he recorded in a studio near Copenhagen. After meeting the 21 year old sound engineer, setting up his amps and guitars for the recording,  Pittman had portions of unfinished ideas that had been floating around in his head but with no specific plans.  But he then wrote “What happened next was nothing short of magical”. And after hearing Shawn Pittman’s latest release “Make It Right” I can report to you that the mojo of the blues is still alive and well.

I absolutely love these kinds of recordings: the band comes into the studio,  hooks up, plays their collective bottoms off, and a very talented engineer mixes it to a polished product without destroying the raw, live, “in the studio” energy and sound. I own several of these types of recordings but “Make It Right” is one of the best I own. This is a 3 piece power trio at its finest and presented here in a tremendous format. Christian Heyman Zinckernagel is the engineer, and he may be only 21 but my what a set of experience beyond his years ears and almost instinctive genius for blend on this young man. The mix on this is nothing short of incredible, and every time here I want to add “especially the drums”. I do not add that line because when I sit back and listen to the entire mix I have to say it is all impressive. It also helps when you have musicians of this caliber. Shawn Pittman it an excellent guitarist and an extremely enjoyable vocalist as well. There are some effects added in his vocals at times which further add to that “live in the studio” sound. The spot on and wonderfully talented rhythm section of father Erkan Özdemir  on bass and son Levent Özdemir on drums are the perfect compliment to Pittmans soaring guitars and refreshingly genuine vocals. Pittman, like all guitarists, is the sum quantity of his respective influences. These are often hard to describe, as, for example, he at times delivers Stevie Ray tones but by way of Albert King. There are other times you recognize a bit of Otis Rush, one of my own personal guitar heroes. But whatever the influence or regardless of style, the quality of work remains impressive.

Whether molten hot electric boogies, gut wrenching ballads, or beautifully constructed instrumentals, Pittman and Company have assembled via “Make It Right” a total package for listeners, again set in that “live in the studio” mode. There is so much good material on this set it is very difficult to pick favorites. However, I especially enjoyed their cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “I Feel Good”, the Shawn Pittman original tune “How Long” the lone slow blues track on the set which made me sweat just by writing about it. “How Long” comes to you by way of the spirit of Otis Rush and contains some very, as I call it, evil playing. You won’t know if you are shouting for joy or because an ice pick pierced your heart, but this track will definitely make you shout.  And if you like some really nasty electric slide (and who doesn’t?), you will thoroughly enjoy “I’m Done”. But once again, these are all excellent tracks, sans filler material.

Like another former Dallas based guitar great, the late Bugs Henderson, Shawn Pittman and Band deliver high quality ear candy no matter what style, or genre, or tempo, be it covers or originals. And like Bugs, Pittman has grown from his assorted and diverse influences into a mature and uniquely original guitarist who I know you will enjoy hearing. Please be sure to visit him online and order a copy of “Make It Right” from the official Shawn Pittman website at https://shawnpittman.com/.

 

The Band

Shawn Pittman-Guitar, Vocals
Erkan Özdemir-Bass
Levent Özdemir-Drums

The Tunes

1. Done Tole You So
2. Finger On The Trigger
3. Make It Right
4. I Feel Good
5. There Will Be a Day
6. How Long?
7. For Right Now
8. Cold Sweat
9. Woke Up Screaming
10. Let It Go
11. Fair Weather Friend
12. I’m Done

Copyright 2020 P&C

Review copyright 2020 Bluesrock.reviews

Reviewer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *