There's a certain maturity, wisdom, and patience that comes with age (don't ask me how I know that, I ain't sayin'), and Kim Wilson has paid his dues long-term in such a fashion that not only has every successive album served to secure ever more solid returns in terms of quality but also depth, and this release, their 26th by my count (anthologies included) and the first in nearly a decade, only widens that bandwidth. On the Verge puts another nuance in the ensemble's very soul oriented approach, a wont that marked the band right from the beginning. Through the years, the T-Birds have attracted top guitar talent: Jimmy Vaughn (Stevie Ray's brother), Duke Robillard, Kid Ramos, etc., and now Mike Keller's in the hotseat (Johnny Moeller covers the rhythm-axe duties) as the fivesome vends its blend of Memphis / San Francisco / Philadelphia sounds.
For my money, Keller tends more to the Robillard years than otherwise, especially in his solos, and Wilson has waxed ever more proletarian and Harlem in his tonicities. He's not playing a hell of a lot of that famed harmonica here, but concentrating far more on his voice. One of the grittiest cuts of the release is the opening I Want to Believe, sounding a bit like a nod to Omar Kent Dykes (Omar & the Howlers), repeated again and more intensely in That's the Way We Roll, my fave song and the most Chicago-y track, taking a firm step back to the old foundation black blues that ignited Chi-town's transfusion of the mode. More than anything, though, this is without doubt a soul disc, so if you seem to detect a bit of Steve Cropper here, a bit of Booker T. there, and a number of other influences—well, that ain't no mistake.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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