Mick Kolassa, Wasted Youth, Endless Blues
Raised in Michigan but resident in Mississippi, “Michissippi Mick” has been playing the blues a long time with a style he likes to call “Free Range Blues”. He’s not tied down to one style, be it Delta blues, country blues, Chicago blues, or Memphis style soul blues.
His new album, Wasted Youth, sees him teamed up with Jeff Jensen, and playing with a group that includes sixteen top notch musicians, including the fine vocals of Tullie Brae. It’s a terrific set of 14 songs, eleven of them Kolassa originals, some of them inspired by his dreadful 2020, in which he lost his wife and a number of friends. All proceeds from the album are going to The Blues Foundation, where Kolassa is a former board member.
The album sets its stall out with the rocking Throwing Away These Blues, with some fabulous work from the horns. “Every day was another punch in the guts,” Kolassa sings, but like the blues are supposed to do, Kolassa uses the song to move on from the dark times and, as he says, “celebrate leaving bad times behind.”
It’s not all celebration, however. There’s the sorrowful and rather beautiful It Hurts to Let You Go, written when Kolassa knew his wife was dying, and then there’s a wonderful slow blues, Feeling Sorry For Myself, achingly accompanied by Victor Wainwright’s piano, where Kolassa admits to feeling down at times. Even here, however, you sense a smile isn’t far away.
As well as his own hard times, Kolassa. Edge of a Razor is a song he wrote as a tribute to hard working women everywhere about a single mother who keeps on going bravely for the sake of her kids. Albert Castiglia adds some cool acoustic slide guitar.
I particularly like the jazzy, toe-tapping Touching Bass, in which we have the joy of a rather nice bass solo. Another favourite is Pieces of My Past, a slow, night-time blues, with some delicious guitar work, where Kolassa “attempts to say goodbye and good riddance to 2020.”
There’s everything you’d hope for in a blues album here – well-constructed songs, a terrific set of musicians, some fine vocal work from Kolassa and Brae, slide guitar, harmonica, cool guitar solos and a tasteful but not overpowering contribution from the horns. Don’t hestitate.