Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jim Byrnes: My Walking Stick

My Walking Stick finds Canadian-based Jim Byrnes reunited with the Vancouver gospel trio The Sojourners, as well as acclaimed producer/guitarist Steve Dawson. Brynes and crew delve into to a number of diverse genres, ranging from gospel and 60’s R&B to country blues and Americana. Though his songs touch on a broad spectrum of the musical horizon, Byrnes’ voice rings true throughout, making this a strong follow up to House of Refuge, which won numerous “Album of the Year” awards in 2006.

Most of the material found on My Walking Stick comes in the form of songs previously performed by others, starting with “Walk on Boy,” enhanced by the soul wrenching gospel vocals of The Sojourners, and an intriguing take “Ophelia,” with a slow, churning tempo quite unlike The Band’s original rendition. Byrnes continues to offer unique tempo changes on “Talk in Circles,” the best of the disc’s three originals tracks.

Brynes truly makes “Drown In My Own Tears” seem like his own, despite the fact that the song was made famous by Ray Charles, as he offers one of the finest vocal performances of his career, while Dawson makes his guitar sing with sounds that are amazingly reminiscent of Derek Trucks. But, the true gem on My Walking Stick is “Lonely Blue Boy,” with Brynes’ vocals suggesting a strong influence of early era Elvis Presley.

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