It was a sure thing Jeff Pitchell would pursue the blues, what with his lowslung sad-boy singing voice. That was gonna happen no matter what, but, at 15, he was voted "best Guitarist in Connecticut," and thus the guy never looked back once his feet hit the path, later recording with Dave Mason, Clarence Clemons, James Cotton and others. This time around, though, J. Geils decided to co-produce him with American Girl, a very soulful often slo-bluesy affair that drops into an R&B groove and stays there. Geils also plays guitar alongside Pitchell, and the CD's title derives from an upcoming James Woods movie of the same name, for which Pitchell wrote four songs. It was in fact Woods who personally requested the music, co-written with Gar Nicholson (Delbert McClinton's band) and Jeff Silbar (the Wind Beneath My Wings cat).
I'm not sure any of that matters, however, because this is a really cool R&B affair, a genre, as I've noted before this, not very much ventured any more, and, man, we could use a whole lot more. Since Robert Cray faded from the scene, the style's definitely fallen into disuse. Well, rejoice, y'all, 'cause this'n more than takes up the slack, a solid winner from start to finish. No doubt but Geils' presence added much to the mix right from the git-go, and I'm digging American Girl much more than any of his old home's many issuances (my fault, I think, as I never was much of one for party records, and ol' Petey Wolf was just too damn brassy for my tastes). Pitchell's cover of the classic Homework drags that cut back over into a far more noticeably blues vein, and his version of Hard Drivin' Man also aces the old Geils do just a mite.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of American Girl is that the CD is so whole-song oriented that you almost miss Pitchell's many clever lines and fills, often Roy Buchanan-esque, while bouncing along with the swingin' songs, morosing over the wistful ones. A lot is centered in his voice, and the gent's pitch is more infectious the longer you listen, a timbre not often encountered. Beautifully Broken seems to have good chart potential and Seriously really gets under your skin, a Taj Mahalish gig that gently bebops along, filled with good spirit and the warning not to get too hung up on all the shit going down 'cause there's plenty of good stuff too. Of course, the song's proposition that "the world is about three drinks behind" kinda says it all. Bend that elbow, raise the beaker, and quaff hearty, 'cause tomorrow you might turn into a Republican (shudder!!). One way or another, though, I see one hell of a lot of groups picking up on this song in the very near future.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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