Bullseye Blues & Jazz 9611
Listening to Tutu Jones’ guitar attack on Staying Power is like having Albert Collins’ spirit left in Texas, with Jones playing the torch rather than carrying it. Not only are his chops great and his guitar leads sizzling with passion, but his voice and songwriting should be enough to thrust him onto a higher level.
From the opening track, "Daylight Caught Us Red Handed," the playing and singing are formidable. Jones’ band is tight, and the instrumental "After Midnight" highlights the excellent support from Carl Caldwell on bass, Brett Nance on drums and Linny Nance on organ. The Memphis Horns augment the line-up especially well on R&B tunes such as "Can’t Leave Your Love Alone," which should give him the crossover appeal that should bring a broader audience base, too. (If it doesn’t, two other tunes — "You Shatter My Heart" and "Be Good to Your Lady" — have that same potential.)
Lyrically, Jones is working some familiar territory, focusing on matters of the heart — relationships, cheating, betrayal. The passion he puts in the playing and the lyric twists work especially well. In "You Shatter My Heart" he sings, "I work five days a week and bring home every dime. Oh yes, I do. I can’t believe you tried to leave me." The naivete and sincerity of this statement can be felt by anyone who’s had that emotional dilemma.
Yet, the real power is his gritty, soulful singing. "The Milkman Game" and "Good Juice" sound like they could have been written and sung by a blues player 40 years ago. Tutu Jones couldn’t have titled this more appropriately. Staying Power indicates he'll be sticking around a long time.
— John Koetzner