Michael Pickett Conversation With The Blues

The opening track sets the pace for this fine album, showcasing the natural abilities of a seasoned, roots-rich performer who fuses Chicago blues to a healthy shot of soul. Conversation With The Blues is a strong, sturdy release that goes beyond explaining Pickett's local popularity to championing his abilities on the world stage. Seasoned songwriting skills (ten of the album's 12 songs are Pickett originals) combine with emotive, distinctive vocals and his time-honoured harmonica sound. Backed by his hardworking, full-time band, as well as a Toronto's who's who of blues players, Pickett's particular conversation covers a broad range of the blues: from the traditional-sounding "Cecil & Spadina," an homage to his humble beginnings, to the big band punch of "Big Train," complete with full horn section, back-up singers and string accompaniment. Key cuts include the sensational "Bad Love," the cool, laid back groove of "Junk Thang" and the sultry, soulful title track. Pickett's definition of "conversation" is a shared one and the interplay between each musician is the obvious key to this album's success. Yet the disc could stand to feature Pickett's significant harp skills more prominently throughout. (Wooden Teeth)