It seems that if a child grows up listening to influential albums and exposure to instruments, they'll end up being a prodigy of some genre. It's a cliche in almost every biography. Clayton Doley started out as a child playing the bass keys of his family's Hammond organ along with Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff, later to showcase his talents in a trio in his teenage years. Doley quickly established himself as a valuable player in the blues and jazz communities, sitting in with many world class acts.
Desperate Times was recorded in Toronto's west side at the famous Canterbury Studios using vintage microphones and instruments, rounding out experience of listening to a greatly talented Hammond player tickle the keys.
Given Doley's talent, I never felt as though he was showing off. Taking and giving the spotlight like a true humble performer, Clayton and his band play off each other excellently on this record. The liner notes explain that all songs were either a first or second take captured live. The energy is strong and you almost get the feeling that the band mates were pushing each other to take things a little further and faster.
Aside from Doley's outstanding playing (see "Misty" for a 'fingers-on-fire' four minute solo) I found Desperate Times to be a little dry. Lyrically, it was topical but not above most pop music. Doley may rely on his hands a little too heavily if he wants to be known for more than his playing, but if he doesn't than he's surely on the right track.
As for a casual listen, Desperate Times definitely fills my criteria for great runs and licks, grooves, and off the cuff jams. This album is full of hooks and riffs that will be stuck in your ear, guaranteed. I think he is the type of performer that benefits from being experienced live.
Always With You
Saskatoon's John Antoniuk, known to most as Smokekiller, has been crafting mellow rock tunes for almost a decade. Chipping away at the stubborn Saskatchewan music scene, John continuously produces catchy material and his list of notable showcases and accomplishments is quite impressive as well.
His latest full length release, Always With You (due out September, 4th), was funded by Rawlco Radio's 10K20 contest, which awards 20 Saskatchewan artists ten thousand dollars each to create a record. Always is dedicated to Antoniuk's mother, who passed in 2010, and this is reflected in the songs. He sings with a soulful and conversational styling, recounting memories and telling simple stories. Antoniuk also notes that he decided to release this effort under his given name instead of Smokekiller in respect for his mother, regardless of the confusion it might cause.
The album carries a tasteful alternative country vibe, mixed with just enough edge and smooth percussion. There's also something about these songs that keeps me from doing my usual track surfing. I feel compelled to hear out John's expertly crafted words fully and really let the message sink in. Also, I love listening to the guitars in each track; as a player, I just find them to be near perfect.
I also really dig the nonchalance of this record. Everything seems free and loose, nice and mellow, but never sloppy.
Antoniuk and The Smokekiller Band will be touring Western Canada throughout September, returning to Saskatchewan for the Breakout West Festival held in Regina on September 28th at McNally's Tavern and 29th at O'Hanlon's. Be sure to check out Smokekiller and the rest of the festival lineup.