Living Blues – Review

Brandon Santini
This Time Another Year

LivingBluesReview2013-10North Carolina native and current Memphis blues harp phenom Brandon Santini exudes cool. On Santini’s second solo release, the Beale Street club denizen paves his own distinct path. He is not simply mimicking a frenzied Little Walter lick or a coy Rick Estrin phrase; Santini is a rapidly maturing songwriter and showman as well.

Produced by Santini along with his guitarist, Jeff Jensen, the album sounds like the pulse of Memphis music itself. Got Good Lovin’ is a Saturday night blowout waiting to happen, with Santini’s Dr. John-meets-Delbert McClinton vocals mustering a little suggestive deviance along with the soul. On What You Doing To Me, one of a few cuts co-written with friend and piano contributor Victor Wainwright, you can feel the urgency of Santini’s longing to break free (“gonna go down yonder, travel down that road”), set to a lazy Delta backbeat.

Dig Me A Grave is a highlight, ripe for an emotional meltdown when performed live- the track’s sense of dejection is heightened by a stunning solo from guitarist Jensen. Fish Is Bitin’ wraps up things with a lighthearted rural country charm.

A likely successor to Rod Piazza, with a uniquely Memphis-by-way-of-New Orleans bump, Santini has got a swagger that should carry him well beyond the borders of Beale Street.

~ Mark Urichek, Living Blues