Carl Weathersby
Looking Out My Window
Evidence 26089-2

Looking Out My Window confirms the long-held belief that good musicianship doesn’t necessarily make a good record. The latest from this Chicago guitarist offers loads of guitar licks and solid keyboard backing, but not much else. A graduate of Billy Branch’s band after 14 years, Weathersby launched his solo career via his 1996 debut, Lay Your Blues on Me. In this follow-up, he’s still searching for his own voice and direction.

There’s a distinct ’70s-era blues-rock and R&B flavor, due to the frequent wah-wah guitar effects, funky back beats and arrangements that favor David Torkanowsky’s Hammond B-3 and Wurlitzer organs. Although these are effective tools in and of themselves, Weathersby often leans too heavily on them at the expense of basics like well-crafted lyrics and balanced arrangements. His guitar solos often create clutter rather than musical statements — especially the lengthy introductory solos that overstay their welcome before the first verse gets under way.

In the opening track, "If That Ain’t the Blues," Torkanowsky stakes out his territory early and doesn’t back off much throughout the subsequent 11 songs — a dynamic that’s sometimes favorable and sometimes not. The title track opens with a bombastic blues-rock intro and segues into a stop-the-violence theme that’s more heavy-handed than socially relevant. Equally clumsy and trite are the "gee-ain’t-music-great" lyrics of "Sweet Music." Although his own songwriting and arranging is lacking, Weathersby fares better with covers of Chuck Willis’ "Feel So Bad" and John Hiatt’s "Feels Like Rain." His attempt at Elmore James’ signature riff on "Standing at the Crossroads" is messy and overbearing, though.

Given Weathersby’s technical skills and more than competent vocals, there’s plenty of potential for him to find a leaner, more comfortable groove in future outings. Some editing in the songwriting and arranging process might be all it takes to afford him more consistent footing.

— John C. Bruening

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Boulder, CO, USA.