Johnny Max Band A Lesson I've Learned

In the past ten years, Canada has produced some of the best new blues recordings anywhere. Think Jim Byrnes, Sue Foley, Paul Reddick, Harrison Kennedy and Julian Fauth, to name but a few. This high standard of competition is helping to raise the bar and bring the best out in people. Judging by the new release from Port Credit’s Johnny Max, he’s ready to join the cream of the crop. Max is an expressive vocalist, someone who back in the day would’ve been called a "shouter.” He inhabits a song’s storyline, imbuing it with a strong dose of irony and a knowing "been there, done that” tone. Over 13 songs, including 11 originals written primarily by Max and keyboardist Martin Alex Aucoin, he sings of mistakes made, dreams and lies, obsessions and living in the Mississauga Delta, in case you were wondering where Port Credit is. The band, comprised of Aucoin, guitarist Teddy Leonard, bassist Garth Vogan and Duncan McBain on drums, are a supple, well oiled unit that enlivens every arrangement, whether it’s the Memphis fatback soul of "It’s Not My Fault,” the rocking ’60s R&B of "Going Down, Standing Up” or the New Orleans style funk of "Banks of the Credit,” featuring searing slide guitar and a lovely gospel piano bridge. Aucoin wins MVP, consistently adding excitement to each song, such as on the title track, a burbling Southern soul number where his combined B3 and Wurlitzer beautifully support Max’s wry lyrics and subdued vocal delivery. (Pour Soul)