Gardening is good for the soul and the body, and a listen to the CD What Kind of Fool by The Mojo Roots is going to be good for your blues body and soul. If you listen, you’ll get in there among the roots of our modern music: old traditional, Bobby Bland, The Stones, Beatles, was that Elvis that just came through?
Make no mistake though, this is a new plant. Of the eleven songs, one is traditional with The Mojo Roots arrangement, and four are covers: I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, I Got the Blues, It’s Over, and Hoy Hoy Hoy. The rest of this album is original; full of soul. These guys definitely have mojo going on!
Take the song I’ve Been Loving You too Long. Vocalist Jordan Thomas (vocals, harp, guitar) is backed up by organist John D’Agostino and the organ captures the Otis Redding/Jerry Strong soul and rhythm groove with Jordan’s crying, cracking Steve Earl-like voice all over it. The opening riff reminds one of the Stones.
Trevor Judkin’s guitar playing is reminiscent of Jack Pearson, in that he plays with what is often called economy. That sounds too cheap. Take his playing on White Chicken Chili. He simply knows what to put where, and adds no more, and that takes a lot of artistry to recognize what the song needs and doesn’t need.
Take Hush for example. It inspired the Deep Purple version later, but the Mojo Roots go to (no pun intended) the root song, the traditional, and you hear the reverb of the guitar as echoes of the past. Nothing in this song is complicated, it’s just a well put together arrangement that speaks to the integrity of portraying the original song in a contemporary setting, but it serves well as the tap root of this CD.
It’s Over is a John Mayall song. John Mayall from the 4 man days that boasted Peter Green and Ansley Dunbar. Not a hugely different arrangement, just their modern touch (listen for the ride cymbal of Andy Naugel, and Jim Rush’s bass line) on a rather close arrangement. Mojo Roots does it well, this nod to the old masters. Hoy Hoy Hoy is an old Little Johnny Jones tune, and I Got the Blues is from Leo Nocentelli. You know what’s true about roots? There are old ones, and a tree always grows new ones. These covers are like buttress roots, supporting the trunk. Mojo Roots is in that garden, and could well grow to a great height if they keep this up!
A Jordan Thomas original, Not Loving You, brought Elvis to mind. An Elvis feel with a Steve Earle vocal melody. An excellent combo you have to hear! The guitar riff at the end, you’ll just have to buy this disc to hear what it evokes.
These guys are solid, and definitely have a groove. They can play the instrumental as their own composition titled White Chicken Chili, to the old traditional Hush. These guys are steeped in the dirt of the blues, and they are aptly named the Mojo Roots. Their range of influences, known or not, is an incredible testament to their skill.
Get into the garden, and do some digging with this CD. Get down to the Mojo Roots.