Brad Stivers and Nic Clark, the two creative forces on this album, have just moved to the head of the class of Colorado's blues scene, and they both still attend classes themselves. Brad, the guitarist and powerful singer on this record, is a student of music at the University of Northern Colorado, and Nic, the phenomenal blues harp player is still in high school. With this CD they have arrived as full-fledged players. They are blues men.
The album was beautifully recorded and produced at Colorado Sound Studios. You can hear the precision of the exotic microphones and lovely silent signal pathways that you only get in a pro studio. The sound of the CD is impressive from its first moments.
The collection of songs is fascinating; all originals with homage paid to masters such as William Clarke and Roy Buchanan. The breadth of styles made me laugh out loud as the record moved from straight up blues to gospel to New Orleans second line music, and on to a tune with bluegrass harp licks that reminded me of Jimmy Fadden. This is some good stuff – eclectic but purposeful. It hangs together well.
It hangs together first of all because of the virtuosity of Brad and Nic. Brad’s powerful voice sweeps from full throated thunder to gravely whisper, and his guitar playing is spot on. Nic’s chops on blues harp are stunning. I’ve never heard him better. In fact, I have rarely heard any harp player better than Nic is on this record. He has learned to breathe the music, to leave space, to tell the blues tale.
The record hangs together because the songs they wrote surf the coastline of the blues genre. There is something here for nearly any music fan to embrace, and it is all blues. Brad and Nic are inviting music fans – especially younger music fans – to the blues. We need this.
If you are a true blues fan you need to add this CD to your collection for the simple mastery and magic of the performances. But if you are not you may still need this CD. If you have ever felt the pull of the blues chord change… If you noticed that pattern in some music and felt drawn to it, this album will open your eyes to the blues possibilities. Like walking in Times Square at night. Like a young lover who whispers secrets in your ear, and whose love turns cold. It is a blues story, and this one is told very well.
You can buy the CD at Bad Brad & The Fat Cats website.