Jimmy Pinchak – Blue on Arrival
There’s no sophomore jinx here. Jimmy Jax Pinchak’s debut, Make It Better, proved his skills and hinted at even greater things to come. Everything sounded in place. His guitar playing ably embodied a whole host of emotions and his songwriting invoked the genre’s formulas without ever being entirely beholden to them, but his vocals remained a little raw and, perhaps, excitable. Any possible deficiencies, however, are pared away on his second album Blue on Arrival. This is definitely an arrival. The nine song set establishes Pinchak as a growing force in the genre and likely, at this point, to enjoy the same stardom enjoyed by established living icons like Joe Bonamassa. It’s a favorable comparison, but Pinchak goes one step further with a decidedly more blues rock approach on many cuts, reflected in the inclusion of instrumentation like the Hammond organ and wah wah effects on the guitar.
The opening duo of “Murder” and “Hit My Stride” serve up a rugged one-two punch that jumpstarts the album with a jolt. The former is a mid-tempo blues growler stained with a mournful harmonica wailing away in the lower end of its register. The boozy piano fills hit in the right places and, while his gravitas might be a little affected, Pinchak belts out the lyrics with conviction. The latter is a rough and tumble blues rocker with a thunderous rhythm section boiling over with outlaw and quasi-cock rock posturing. There’s some interesting tempo shifts peppering the track. Pinchak shows a bit of daring trying out Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues”, but his wickedly evocative acoustic slide guitar hits its marks and faithfully renders the track without ever descending into slavish imitation. “Rock Me Down” is another bass-thumping bruiser with Hammond organ providing meaty underpinning for Pinchak’s talents to shine.
Rolling piano lines and slowly developing guitar work helps “Poison” stand out. This extended slow blues runs much longer than any of the album’s other nine songs and gives Pinchak and his collaborators an ideal chance to flex their playing muscles. “I Can’t Stop” is much shorter than its immediate predecessor, but it packs tremendous force for a mid-tempo number and it has an unique urgency. Pinchak takes a semi-surprising turn with the lyrical acoustic blues of “Poor One” and his facility for playing crisp, clean melodies adds another flavor to the album’s tasty mix. “Best I Could” could have perhaps benefitted from a lighter vocal approach, but it’s quite an atmospheric track musically and the piano playing gives it a woozy melancholy that helps it stick in the memory. The final song “Stuck in Glue” takes Pinchak back to his acoustic guitar for a darkly humorous romp. It’s an ideal ending for the album thanks to its individualistic imagery and how Pinchak strikes just the right tone musically and vocally.
There are a few scattered spots where Pinchak seems a little too eager to impress, but he continues growing into his destined role as one of the genre’s pre-eminent all around talents. Blue on Arrival is a sizeable step beyond the fine debut effort Make It Better and Pinchak’s path seems onward and upward from here.
8 out of 10 stars.