September 28, 2020

If JD Simo is an artist that you are unaware of then prepared to be amazed as you enter his world of psychedelic, blues infused and soul drenched rock and roll. He is a supremely talented guitarist and singer, Chicago born but based in Nashville and he previously operated within his own band simply entitled Simo and they released several superb blues albums. They all feature his amazing skills as a guitarist and just one listen is enough to confirm that he is a major talent indeed. Simo appears to have retired the band and now he operates simply under the name of JD Simo which seems a little strange given the similarity but then he is the boss and decides how he wants to promote his music.

Simo is a keen aficionado of the power trio format and this has been his signature in both versions of his band with the musicians now being long time drummer Adam Abrashoff who has been with him virtually from the beginning and Andraleia Buch on bass with Simo providing the voice, guitar and keyboards.

Simo is an interesting take on the Blues as he takes old school blues and fuses it with both soul and psychedelic overtones and it is easy to see that his major influences have been the sublime Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Cream. The psychedelic element is very pronounced in his music and it is very easy to see the ghost of Hendrix in his style of playing and delivery. Simo’s early albums have all featured one very lengthy track which has allowed him to improvise and play almost in Paul Kossoff type jamming mode and when on his flights of fancy he has few peers indeed. The long and winding track is forgone for this new album which sees just the ten tracks for a quite short running time of only 35-minutes and I do miss one of his long and extended flights of fancy but what we do have here are perfect examples of his short, sharp and direct soulful blues played with real emotion and passion. It is the merging of psychedelic, funk, R&B and soul with the blues which makes his music so attractive and thoroughly engrossing indeed. The publicity actually states that he ‘connects the missing link between Motown and Woodstock’ and he most certainly does that on this release which is effectively his second solo album following quickly on from last year’s Off At 11.

The debut was recorded live in the studio without edits or studio enhancement which made for a very organic experience and this new album follows a similar path being recorded direct to tape in only three days which give the music a definite edge and an almost live vibe. The songs are a mixture of tracks written by Simo or Simo and Abrashoff with a number of covers from the greats including James Brown, Willie Johnson, Earl Hooker and Isaac Hayes but all receive the unique Simo treatment of reverb and distortion enhancing the ’60s psychedelic feel to the work. You only have to listen to the Hendix-esque Higher Plane, his version of Anna Lee, a truly amazing re-interpretation of a blues classic or One Of Those Days, a Simo/Abrashoff penned track which sounds like a Smokie Robinson lost classic to see what a major talent JD Simo is.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable psychedelic Blues delight from a man blessed with an abundance of talent and just one listen is enough to hook you for life.

JD Simo track list

  1. The Movement (3:58)
  2. Love (3:38)
  3. Out Of Sight (2:24)
  4. Higher Plane (5:02)
  5. One Of Those Days (3:16)
  6. Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic (3:01)
  7. Take That (1:46)
  8. Soul Of A Man (2:32)
  9. Help (5:01)
  10. Anna Lee (3:49)