A Very Tasty American Gumbo Fusing Gospel, Blues, Country and More.
Formed some 18 years ago by Jo Lily and Bobby B. Keyes, The Mystix are regarded by many as the epitome of what is often referred to as an ‘Americana Band’; fusing gospel, blues & country sounds from as far back as the 1920’s plus more recent contemporary music (not necessarily American in origin) to create a fascinating, eclectic and very tasty gumbo.
Can’t Change It is their 7th. album and renowned drummer Marco Giovani is not only part of the rhythm section (along with bassist Marty Ballou), he was also employed to add his magic as the Producer (previous spellbinding productions for Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris & Nora Jones certainly helped elevate his reputation).
The basic band is a 6 piece, with some belting electric and slide guitar from Duke Levine and impressive ivory tinkling from Tom West. Additionally, there are several special guests, on specific tracks, including the Dickinson Brothers from the North Mississippi Allstars, harmonica icon Charlie McCoy and surely pleasing many people on this side of the pond; pedal steel maestro – B.J. Cole.
For starters, we have a Dylan cover with Jo Lily’s vocals getting pretty close to sounding like His Bobness on “Outlaw Blues,” which is followed by another cover, this time superbly highlighting just what an underrated talent Timi Yuro was in the early 1960’s, with a rendition of her 1962 B-Side “Ain’t Gonna Cry“.
The next 2 tracks, “Carrie” & “Let’s Get Started“, with B. J. Cole on pedal steel; are both quality originals; before we have some up-tempo blues with “Jumper On The Line“, an old R.L. Burnside number which, quite appropriately, features fellow North Mississippians Luther Dickinson on slide guitar and Cody Dickinson on electric washboard.
It gets really interesting on the next track, one of two Frankie Miller songs, “Bottle of Whiskey” which introduces Charley McCoy’s plaintive harmonica.
The Glaswegian’s other contribution provides the album with its title “I Can’t Change It” which Frankie wrote when he was 12 years old and was once covered by Ray Charles.
There’s then a third cover with a right royal British connection, “Backstreet Girl“, a long lost gem by Mick & Keef and originally on The Rolling Stones’ 1967 album Between The Buttons (aka Flowers in the USA).
Reverting back across the North Atlantic there is an interesting version of the traditional “Wouldn’t Mind Dyin'” plus a terrific slow shuffle with “Going to The River,” courtesy of Blues legend Jimmy Reed’s pen.
There’s certainly a huge spectrum of styles on show and of normally accepted genres that all effortlessly meld into a most enjoyable album, perhaps emphasised best by the final track, “Dreamers Holiday” which is a Mabel Wayne and Kim Gannon beauty that was a massive hit for Perry Como in 1949; over 70 years ago!
In summary, I have to admit that The Mystix had, unfortunately, slipped off my radar in recent times, but by golly gumboil, they have gone and changed all that with Jo Lily, Bobby B. Keyes et al delivering a refreshing and entertaining new album.
Review courtesy Jack Kidd;
“Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com
Released on 7th. August 2020