By Frank-John Hadley | Published July 2021
Chris Cain’s new album packs the excitement that San Franciscans and audiences overseas have come to expect from this California bluesman since the late 1980s. It’s the most solid of 15 albums he’s made to date and its appearance on the Alligator label gives the 65-year-old veteran a big stateside career boost he’s long deserved.
Cain’s baritone voice, capable of blunting the edge of a knife, exudes more bluesy feeling than ever before in the studio. Supported by his dependable road band on original songs, he tackles lyrics on life’s hardships with a hard-headed will to stand fast. For “I Believe I Got Off Cheap,” Cain’s tough vocalized resiliency evokes that of Chicago blues stalwart Son Seals.
Still, it’s his guitar, with its Gordian knot ties to B.B. and Albert King, that conveys his strongest dramatic sense; intensity comes from a relaxed, less-is-more approach only now reaching its culmination after years of yeoman work in the trenches. Cain the guitarist communicates his high regard for the emotional clarification of lyrics through honest presentation and that discerning technique. Touched by the spirit of Ray Charles, the bandleader also shows himself to be a good keyboardist on four numbers.
Raisin’ Cain: Hush Money; You Won’t Have A Problem When I’m Gone; Too Many Problems; Down On The Ground; I Believe I Got Off Cheap; Can’t Find A Good Reason; Found A Way To Make Me Say Goodbye; Born To Play; I Don’t Know Exactly What’s Wrong With My Baby; Out Of My Head; As Long As You Get What You Want; Space Force. (43:35)
Personnel: Chris Cain, vocals, guitar, piano (4, 8), Wurlitzer electric piano (6, 12), clavinet (12), ARP synthesizer (12); Greg Rahn, Fender Rhodes (1, 3, 9, 11, 12), piano (2, 4), organ (3–6, 8, 10), clavinet (5), Wurlitzer electric piano (7); Steve Evans, bass; Derrick “D’Mar” Martin, drums (1–3, 5, 7, 9, 11), percussion (1, 3, 5–7, 9, 11, 12); Sky Garcia, drums (4, 6, 8, 10, 12); Kid Andersen, rhythm guitar (3, 9), acoustic guitar (7), melodica (12), background vocals (6); Lisa Leuschner Andersen, backup vocals (11); Michael Peloquin, tenor saxophone (1, 3, 5, 8, 10), saxophones (2), horn arrangements (1, 3, 5); Mike Rinta, trombone (1, 3, 5, 8, 10); Jeff Lewis, trumpet (1, 3, 5, 8, 10); Doug Rowan, baritone saxophone (1, 3, 5, 8, 10).
Ordering Info: alligator.com