It’s always great to see an exceptional artist come back with a winning sophomore effort. It reaffirms our instincts that yes, that first album really was that good. When an artist follows up a killer debut album with one that is even stronger, tighter, and more engaging, it really says a lot.
We reviewed Brad Hatfield’s debut effort, Uphill From Anywhere in July of 2012, stating “The sound on this album will remind you at times of Tinsley Ellis, Joe Cocker, Luther Allison, and Peter Green among others. Brad Hatfield’s harmonica playing is extremely good and his vocals are exceptional. This is a very well rounded, well written and well played album.” The album received a nomination for Best New Artist Debut 2013 Blues Music Awards.
Hatfield’s newest self-released album, For A Change, consists of 12 tracks, clocking in at 49 minutes. Personnel on this outing are Brad Hatfield – harmonica, vocals, Bob Britt – guitar, Kevin McKendree – piano, organ, Tommy MacDonald – bass, and Tom Hambridge on drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Tom Hambridge also brings his production chops to the party, working his magic as only he can do. The album is engineered by Michael Saint-Leon, with he and Hambridge doing the mastering. All this effort results in clear sound, and a warm ambiance throughout.
There is just so much to enjoy on this album! “Back Door Scratchin’” has a driving beat and some high speed, low drag guitar that really sings. “Behave Yourself” is a nice slow shuffle, and “Burbank’s Boogie” is a rollicking piano boogie that really kicks! “For A Change” benefits from the great texture added by the organ, and Hatfield’s haunting vocal. “Never Finished Nothin’” features another fine vocal from Hatfield, and simply drips with blues; you might need a napkin! “So Much, So Little,” with its playful touch of vaudeville, reminds us of Randy Newman. “Swamp Poker” is swampy, kickin blues, with a hint of soul.
For A Change is a deeply satisfying album that honors the promise shown on Hatfield’s previous album, Uphill From Anywhere. This is really gratifying blues. Hatfield’s band is in top form, delivering on track after track, and his vocals are the icing on the cake.
Check this out soon!