In 2009, JP Soars and his band, The Red Hots, won 1st place in the Blues Band category at the International Blues Challenge. Since then, Soars’ star has been rising steadily. More Bees With Honey is his sophomore recording, and it is solid. The sound is sparse and well executed. Production is not fussy or overdone; again, just mean and lean. Soars is joined by his core band, the Red Hots, consisting of Chris Peet on drums, and Donald “the Cougar” Gottlieb on electric bass. In addition, the band is joined by a host of great musicians including Travis Colby, piano and hammond organ, and Jasson Ricci on harmonica. (These two gentlemen do a fine job throughout!)
Overall, the music here has a very stripped-down feel; definitely not the fullness of a supper club show. The album starts out with the title track, which has a Memphis, Blues Brothers feel to it. “K.Y.N.O.M.B.” (Keep Your Nose Outta My Business) is a great spirited romp that has jazz echoes, along with a clean solo. “So Many Times” is a slow ballad, and is followed by “Hot Little Woman,” a nice Louis Jordan style jump blues. “Doggin'” has a heavier beat and some decent wah pedal on it – another good cut.
Other standout cuts on this album include a honky-tonkish version of the H.E. Owens tune “The Hustle (Is On).” Louisiana Red’s “Sweet Blood Call” is played juke joint style, with a solo that fits perfectly. The closer, “Where’d You Stay Last Night,” is a shuffle, with a kinetic country honk sound that is pretty cool.
There are a couple of weak spots here too. “Lost It All” is not bad as a slow blues piece, but would have been fine at three minutes. “Twitchin” is a generic up-tempo boogie that has been done many times before, and that space could have been better used to showcase the band’s talents. “Chasing Whiskey With Whiskey” is simply way too long and just lacks any real drama as a musical piece.
Taken as a whole, this album is a solid outing with a somewhat Traditionalist point of view. It is not trying to be showy and slick. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill commercial blues. Take it for a spin soon.