Jazz CD Reviews

The No Refund Band – (self-produced)

Debut album kicks out the jams!

Published on December 18, 2012

The No Refund Band – (self-produced)

The No Refund Band – (self-produced), 43:54 [www.cdbaby.com/cd/thenorefundband] ****:

(Ricky Jackson – guitar, vocals; Mike Crownover – guitar; Rik Robertson – bass; Walter Cross – drums; Diamond Jim Brady – trumpet, flugelhorn; Anthony Terry – baritone/tenor/soprano saxophones; Tommie Lee Bradley – vocals; Max Dyer – cello; Aleph Yonker – violin; Travis Doyle – Hammond B3 organ; Randy Wahl – piano; James Metcalf – congas; Tyson Sheth – snare, shaker)

The No Refund Band has released their self-titled debut. The Texas-based blues/rock band (which means they play a wide variety of music with roots in blues, folk, gospel and r & b). At the core of the group is lead singer and guitarist Ricky Jackson. With a growling baritone (like Travis Tritt), and crisp emphatic guitar play, he can interpret different styles of blues music. There is a lot of band chemistry and the arrangements reflect this. It’s all about “selling” the songs and this band is very capable.

Starting with some old school driving guitar blues, Ricky Jackson delivers crisp lead guitar and soulful vocals. Some additional shading is provided by B-3 and horns. Things get mellower on the latin-grooved “Come Down Slow”. There is an unexpected change of pace on the cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. Psychedelic and atmospheric, the band manages to merge their rootsy vibe with the original song context. There are violin riffs, a trumpet solo, and horn chorus that merge with the searing guitar. Familiar themes of blues music pop up on country-rocker “Got Whiskey” as Jackson details his preferences of drinking. The rhythm has a rolling, hand-jive vibe that is accessible. A stripped-down acoustic tune (“One More Drink”) covers similar ground.

These are not perfunctory arrangements. Hoyt Axton’s melancholic “Never Been To Spain” is an example. Starting with a flamenco guitar/trumpet intro (“Spain Prelude”) the jam morphs into a gospel arrangement that blows the roof off. Anthony Terry’s brawny saxophone is matched by Jackson’s tough vocals. “Soul Shine” also draws on hymnal aesthetics, but in a soul-pop arrangement. A significant change can be heard on the tender ballad, “Fall Again”, with a melodic violin solo (Aleph Yonker) and graceful backup vocals by Tommie Lee Bradley. The duo shares lead vocals on “Just To Be Blue”. The band seems to hit a peak when the basic guitar format is expanded, in this case to include B-3, piano and brass. The final crescendo-filled ending along with Bradley’s yells is dynamic.

The No Refund Band is a promising debut.

TrackList: Blues Is My Business; Come Down Slow; Eleanor Rigby; Fall Again; Just To Be Blue; Got Whiskey; One More Drink; Soul Shine; Spain Prelude; Never Been To Spain; Top Side; Willie The Wimp

—Robbie Gerson

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