Ash Grunwald’s first album in five years shows that he knows what it takes to create a rocking Chicago blues album. Mojo is a guitar filled record with an array of Australian and international guest musicians, through which Grunwald showcases a range of new and old songs built on a similar style.
Opening track ‘Hammer’ eases into the album with some light guitar licks, before building slowly to the first of many heartfelt solos on this release. ‘Ain’t My Problem’ features Australia’s The Teskey Brothers and is a bouncier tune backed with a harmonica. The album’s lead single ‘Whispering Voice’, a rework of an old song Grunwald played on a steel lap guitar, borrows vocals from Country veteran Kasey Chambers and builds to a howling Hendrix-esque solo.
A cover of Rag’n’Bone Man’s ‘Human’ is the bass highlight of the album, with fellow Australian musician Harry Angus James contributing a bright trumpet solo accompanied by a screaming guitar. Mahalia Barnes and American blues artist Kim Wilson sing on ‘Trouble’s Door’. ‘3AM’ opens with a husky, deep slide guitar, and is the Delta blues track of the album, with James again appearing on trumpet. Late American musician Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater appears on ‘How Many More Years’, a track reworked from Grunwald’s 2006 release I Don’t Believe.
This album is one I would recommend to those who are familiar with Chicago blues and are looking for an album filled with vibrant, clean guitar solos that scream for minutes, and grungy, deeply distorted rhythm guitars. This album’s guest appearances add something different to each track, without straying too far from this style of music.
Reviewed by Thom Devereux