Shake and Bake - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sounds)
Fort Wayne, Indiana’s favourite blues duo is back and while they’re not making any seismic shifts in their music, it sure sounds good on “Shake and Bake”.
What's here? Ten songs. No fat. Mostly foot stomping punk blues. That giant-sized space cake on the cover sure ain’t gluten-free. Is it studio album 10 or 11? Who cares. The formula works.
Left Lane Cruiser remains Freddy “Joe” Evans IV (guitar and vocals) and Pete Dio (drums and percussion), the latter on his third straight record, and opening track “Two Dollar Elvis” makes an immediate impact. Dio lays down the time to signal Evans’ stuttering guitar and trademark hoarse ’n’ gritty vocal.
Founding member Evans taks his musical inspiration from Mississippi Hill country blues but ups the ante in amplification and grit. He sure is happy with his slide and the black cat moan in his tone is what the Cruiser is all about.
If the mean town boogie of the title track (and lead-off single) doesn’t awaken your inner Johnny Winter, there’s no hope for your soul. Left Lane Cruiser isn’t re-inventing anything here but there’s not much reason to.
“Waltz” is the opus - a change of pace that’s almost five-and-a-half minutes long - but the prize for sharpest riff wrapped around a melody goes to “Breaking You Down”, a soulful yet rough-edged groover that sits apart from most of the others.
Guest organist Jason Evans adds the frills to the slow build of “Smooth Commander”, a chugging blues tune with a lighter touch that sets sail for far away ports. The traditional “Mule Plow Line” backs off the throttle as the sole cover and requisite change of pace.
In “Detroit House Party”, Dio hammers a flat feel to the floor and Evans kicks some dirty arsed slide guitar into play. It’s enough to make you want to play the album again.