Thirteen tracks make up the second album (released 6th May, 2016) from Ohio’s rock/blues quartet, The Magic Lightnin’ Boys. When bluesy/southern rock works well, it is, indeed, magical, The Black Keys being a prime example – also from Ohio. What do they put in the water in that state?! However, it’s difficult to get the balance right between authentic blues and still sounding contemporary, and this band pulls it off with aplomb, even putting the odd surprise in here and there.
It all sounds tight and effortless and as if everyone’s having a good time. They haven’t been together for long, although you’d think they’d been a band for years. Oh boy, these guys know how to play. Casey Gomez (vocals, harp & piccolo bass), Brian Tarter (guitar, backing vocals), Richie Lee (bass) and Kurt Lipphardt (drums) keep great energy going throughout.
Casey’s sandpaper vocals never allow anything to get too chilled – plus he sure knows his way around a harp; nothing says Southern swamp blues like that sound, as “Bones” testifies. Whether playing straight rock or dirty blues from the bottom of their boots, the band hits the sweet spot with guitar, bass and percussion. And that harp goes through you like an express train, as on “Rubber Side Down”.
Towards the end of “April Rain”, I’m reminded of The Allman Brothers Band. “Roll” is a departure and goes into very funky territory. A more radical departure is “Bondo’s Ballad”, 57 seconds of acoustic guitar with a classical feel – a nice surprise and one that I wanted to go on for longer. I like the inclusion of the instrumental tracks on the album; they give the musicians room to parade their skills, and they bring an extra dimension, as on “The Cleansing”, which is a slow blues and jangly too.
Blues fans will like this, and rock fans will like this, so it’s a win-win. Rocking it out and keeping the blues alive, The Magic Lightnin’ Boys carry the torch of a fine tradition and do it in their own way, with flashes of magic.