August 2007

The Twisters - After the Storm
Northernblues Music NBM00037
Released: 2006

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

The Twisters are a blues/swing quartet from Canada, and their latest CD, After the Storm, is a great introduction to their work. Eleven of the 12 tracks are creative and well-suited originals, while the closing track, "Bye Bye Bird," is a Sonny Boy Williamson tune sung by bandleader and harmonica player Dave Hoerl. It is a somber tribute to the band's previous bass player, who was killed in a car accident that the whole band was involved in two years ago. Despite that tragedy, the band chose to "play on" and added bassist Keith Picot to the group. After the Storm is impressive on a number of levels, primarily that it was recorded after only playing with Picot once, the night before going into the studio. The finished sound and the apparent compatibility of the members belie this fact.

The Twisters aren't afraid to explore a variety of styles and feels. While jump blues is the style most recognizable, "Where's the Woman" has an oldies soul sound, and several tracks are straight-up swing. The disc opens strongly with "I'm Your Man," written and sung by guitarist Brandon Issaks, whose gravelly voice recalls a big bad wolf, and backed by the cocksure swagger of a walking bass line and shuffling drums. Hoerl's harmonica cuts over it all with a thick, whining sound. Special guest Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne plays piano on a number of tracks, and the combination of Wayne and Hoerl is that of a powerhouse blues duo.

"After the Storm" was recorded and mixed by band member Brandon Issaks and his brother Chris, and it is an excellent example of expert production. Every track is balanced and smooth with multiple microphones picking up each riff and tone.

For fans of no-nonsense blues and swing, After the Storm is a refreshingly good album.