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Darrell Nulisch – Just For You – Severn, 2009
East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

Darrell Nulisch – Just For You – Severn, 2009

Darrell Nulisch is one of the best soul and blues singers working today – for the young cats who want to learn how to sing soul music, listen to Mr. Nulisch; he’s among the best-of-the-best. Most of his solo CDs, especially those on Severn Records trend toward the soul side of the street, but always with bluesy roots (with the bluesiest being his last effort – Goin’ Back to Dallas). This album is definitely a soul exercise, one on which Darrell can really show off his pipes and his delivery. The Severn Records house band was used on this CD, and a hot band it is: Johnny Moeller (currently a guitarist for The Fabulous Thunderbirds), Benjie Porecki (world class B3 player), Steve Gomes and Rob Stupka.

Mr. Nulisch is very good harp player, exceptional really, which doesn’t get as much notice as it should. As with several other harp players with great singing voices (Curtis Salgado comes immediately to mind, and there are others), Darrell’s harp work doesn’t get full attention on his studio CDs. Early in his career he sang and played harp as one of Anson Funderburgh’s Rockets (pre Sam Myers), and also performed this duty for Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters (see the Peace of Mind album.) He also helped put together the original incarnation of Mike Morgan and The Crawl in the 1980s. In the 2000’s Darrell spent time singing in front of James Cotton’s band after Cotton could no longer perform vocally.

The Songs: (songs by Darrell Nulisch and Steve Gomes unless otherwise specified)

1. You Don’t Know Me
--What a great lead-off track to Nulisch’s newest CD, an up-tempo horn-fueled blast of hard soul. As my kids like to say – sweet!

2. The Woman Don’t Live Here No More – (G. Holland)
--Folks who sequence songs on albums take note – this is how to sequence tracks on an album. A tough up-tempo tune to kick-off the festivities, followed up with a hypnotic slow-burner that forces people to listen. I’m so glad people haven’t forgotten how to do this; outstanding.

3. Work For Love – (Bill Taylor Sparks, Don Bryant, Bernard Miller)
--This mid-tempo cut would be perfect for the dance floor, and the meaning of the lyric isn’t bad, either. Good love (is there any other kind?) is worth the work it takes to get there, and it (love) does indeed take some work – which makes it all the more precious.

4. Just For You – (James Moore aka “Slim Harpo”)
--We’ve got some deep soul here, featuring the guitar playing of Mr. Johnny Moeller, and some of the only harmonica playing from Nulisch on the CD (which is a shame, as he is a top-notch harp player.) This sound is timeless, rising up from the Louisiana gumbo, refusing to be silenced.

5. It’s A Shame – (J.J. Malone)
--Aw, man, this is just plain cool. Darrell works the upper portion of his vocal range here a bit, contrasting nicely with the bari sax and trombone heavy horn charts. This is slinky, funky and righteous. I dare you to sit still while this song plays - not going to happen.

6. Just A Little Blues
--This tune reminds me very much of the kind of thing sung by Ann Peebles during her Stax days, with some Lowell Fulson late ‘60s funkiness thrown in for good measure. Ann could have sung the…, well, you know, out of many of Lowell’s tunes from that era - all to mean that this tune is a greasy, sweaty, sexy beast. Is it getting warm in here?

7. Far Too Lonely
--This is an up-tempo ode to the yearning a couple feels for each other when someone has to travel away from home for awhile. Moeller’s guitar work is outstanding and oh-so-tasteful, and Porecki’s organ work is unobtrusive-but-essential; the horns kick it all the way through.

8. All The Love We Had
--Oh, man – deep, deep soul here, folks. Think James Carr or Tyrone Davis deep, although the song itself reminds me a bit of some of Syl Johnson’s work from the 1970s.

9. Let A Woman Be A Woman
--This is one of those ultra-cool funky numbers that manages to be incredibly powerful by being restrained, always on the edge of breaking lose, seemingly barely under control but yet always firmly in the pocket. The track features loads of popping B-3 and chunky guitar, along with more of that horn section.

10. Natural Thing
--The set closer, this is one of the bluesiest cuts on the CD. It’s a love song that sports a swingin’ country-soul vibe, with Darrell’s emotive voice convincing you just how much he cares for his girl. Guys, if you’ve got a good woman, cherish her with all you’ve got, and don’t forget the simple things in life, as they can be among the best things. The music reminds me of some of the early Stax output, before it began to let loose of the down home elements in favor of more urban, funky sounds.

The Verdict:

What did East Side Slim think of Darrell Nulisch’s new CD Just For You? He likes it! Darrell is one of the best singers you will ever here, the musicianship is amazing, the arrangement fantastic – what more could you ask for? Well, I could ask for a little longer CD as this one clocks in at only 38 minutes, but I’d rather have a SOLID 38 minutes than a CD full of filler. No filler here, people, just good old fashioned soul music played by people who love it. Let’s rate this bad boy; I’m giving Just For You an STLBluesometer rating of 4.00. Thanks, Darrell!

For more information concerning Darrell Nulisch, see the following websites:

Lee Howland - aka "East Side Slim"

The STLBluesometer

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