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"Secretly Famous" by The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher
The Reverend Jimmie Bratcher’s latest release “Secretly Famous” is a welcome return to his bluesy, funky roots. His previous release, “Exchange”, while a fine recording, was more of a pop/country outing. Secretly Famous pares it down and delivers the gamut of funky blues.
The opening track, Jupiter & Mars drives on Craig Kew’s thumping bass and Lester Estelle’s rock steady snare drum. This is straight ahead blues rocker that reminds me a lot of ’s song “Medicine.” Tab Benoit
The second track, “57” is quite possibly my favorite track on the whole CD. With his mix of funk, Cajun rhythm and excellent guitar work, The Rev definitely was in the zone recording this one. Right behind it is “Feels Like Friday”, a driving song with a moving bassline that The Rev just completely rips over.
The ballad “It Just Feels Right” reminds me a lot of his songs from his 2003 release “Something Better” but you can really feel a less forced feel to this ballad as opposed to his earlier ballads, not that they are bad, but this a matured piece.
“Check Your Blues At The Door” is a down-home, foot-tapping blues number that is pretty much your standard blues fare, but is a welcome return to The Rev’s blues roots.
The J.D. Loudermilk song “Tobacco Road” is next up. The Rev’s version is interesting, but quite honestly is just one of those songs that is more filler than anything else, unlike his inclusion of the Titus Turner song “Grits Ain’t Groceries” on The Electric Rev CD, which is one of the best versions of that song I have heard, this version of Tobacco Road again feels more like filler.
“Nowhere To Go But Down” has a very Gov’t Mule type groove and feel going on. Jimmie uses some cool effects, quite similar to what Warren Haynes does, and the rhythm section is rock steady. This one is definitely falls into the top five of my favorite cuts on the CD. The next song, “When I Fall Apart”, is another song that has the Gov’t Mule type feel and groove to it.
“Never My Love” is another ballad, and I really hate to say this, but even though it is a nice song that is well played, I think the earlier ballad would have been enough. This one again feels like it just takes up time and sort of drops a speed bump into the groove that had built up to this point. Good song, very pretty guitar work, but unnecessary.
Luckily, The Rev bounces right back with “I Can’t Shake That Thing”. This is a funky song…I love this song… The guitar work is gripping and powerful.
OK, there isn’t much I can say about “Bologna Sandwich Man.” This is a top three song off the CD and between the hilarity of the song, Jimmie shows off his slide playing skills. The song just makes you feel good and yeah, it makes me want a bologna sandwich!
The final track is “Starting All Over Again.” It’s a straight ahead rock song that has some nice guitar work. The song closes out the CD with a familiar Jimmie Bratcher feel to it.
All in all, if The Rev was going to make an album that would cross into the secular realm, this is the one. That being said, I won’t say I am disappointed that something the Rev is very well known to speak about, that is, Jesus, seems to be somewhat missing from the CD. BUT… All that being said this is a clean CD that has the potential to reach those who may not have ever heard his music because of its Christian theme. It’s quite possible that while those of us who have followed his career since “Honey In The Rock” know that this secretly famous musician might be on the verge of not being so secret any longer. And that is great news for Christian blues musicians. I can’t speak for The Rev, but I would be willing to bet his intention is to break that secular barrier and once doing so, letting those who listen to his music find out that you can indeed play the blues, rock out and be a Christian and love Jesus all at the same time!
Visit The Rev Jimmie Bratcher at http://therevjb.com/