The mission of the blues from its evolution in the South after the Civil War onward, and the glorious results, has been to express the myriad joys and sorrows of life. As contemporary blues guitarist Jimmy Warren relates, "I was never the same after hearing my first Son House and Robert Johnson songs. There was something heartfelt and genuine coming from their music, it seemed real." His experience is clearly in evidence on his first studio CD, No More Promises.
Warren was born in Kankakee, Illinois on October 25, 1964. He came to the guitar relatively late around 1989, but quickly made up for lost time. Completely self-taught, within a year he was playing professionally and has since performed with an eclectic list of artists including Buddy Miles, Junior Wells, Sugar Blue, Pat Travers, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Mack, Reo Speedwagon and Chris Duarte, among others. From 1998 to 2008 he took a hiatus from music to focus on his family, only to return better and more determined than ever. In 2009 the tight and driving Jimmy Warren Band of John DiGregorio (rhythm guitar), Mike Boyle (bass) and Charles Price (drums) released their first CD, Live at Last (Vision Records and Entertainment).
The new 12-song set of all originals as penned by Warren draws the listener in immediately with "Watermelon Money" a jazzy minor key progression that finds him decrying his inability to satisfy his woman’s desire for material possessions. He keeps the pot simmering on the hypnotic, minor key shuffle "Mean Mistreater," digging into his frets with fire and conviction, masterfully building intensity and anticipation. Switching gears dynamically, he sings the plaintive ballad ""I’m Gonna Love You," showing no reluctance in expressing his love minus the irony. With the requisite nod to Jimi Hendrix and the eighties rock he also admires, Warren moves effortlessly between Electric Lady soul and long, melodic solo lines featuring his signature gorgeous tone on the instrumental "Darker Shade of Grey."
Dusky, late night blues return on the sexy slow drag "It Ain’t Fair," a working man’s lament with Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin guesting on "Honey Bee" slide guitar. "Standing in My Shoes" is a chugging, well-oiled blues powered by an infectious, loping guitar riff as Warren strikes a blow for the unemployed in these tough economic times, letting loose his anger and chops in a slashing, biting solo.
The title track serves up a tasty slice of Southern-fried rock that belies Warren’s Midwest roots, allowing him to sing his lover’s tale of woe with passion while once again displaying his unerring knack for memorable melodies. "Love’s Gone Bad Again" mines even deeper lost love territory in a melancholy, minor key ballad where Warren plays his heart strings and guitar strings to maximum effect. Maintaining the momentum, Warren pleads his case to his woman on the folk rock of "It’s Been Too Long" as his guitar helps expose the bare wires of his soul. Likewise, "A Love That Hurts" rocks out with minor key angst and the declaration of, "Your love hurts, more than any other has." "A Matter of Time" uses an anthem-like progression and organ backing to create a full-throated cry of love. Coming full circle, Warren saves his best chilling blues for last with the slow and dramatic "Sends Me on My Way" that emphasizes the chasm between labor and management as he soars on his axe like an avenging angel of the working class. Jimmy Warren is as real as it gets. His blues and rock are heartfelt, genuine and deeply satisfying.
Dave Rubin, Staff Writer, Guitar Edge Magazine