Darrell Nulisch - Just For You - Blues Blast Magazine (January 28, 2010)
Darrell Nulisch has been around for awhile, paying his dues and obviously doing what he loves. He has recorded several albums over a 20 year span, but from the opening song of his latest effort, “Just For You”, longtime fans will quickly recognize that this album may be one of his very best. If there was ever any doubt about his identity as an artist, his new release asserts his natural strength as a soul man. Before he a was maybe perceived as a ‘R&B- Blues guy’, but “Just For You” separates him from the blues artists and puts him in the category he belongs in.
“You Don’t Know Me”, the first cut of this album was written by Nulisch and Steve Gomes, and is arguably the best song here. The horn section and the Memphis groove grab the listener immediately, and by the time the chorus comes around with that little hook, you’ll either be stomping your feet or dancing. I played this song on my radio show last week and by then I had already listened to it at least 6 times and yet I still couldn’t wait to hear it again. I also love the guitar tone on this song, meshing perfectly with Darrell’s sweet vocal delivery.
The next cut, “The Woman Don’t Live Here No More” brings more of Nulisch’s smooth vocals and another dose of very cool horns. Like many of the songs on this album, the listener will hearken back to the days of old soul and R&B, and I got that familiar feeling several times with this album, hearing something similar to maybe something I’ve heard before. Once “Work For Love” gets going it takes on a kind of Tyrone Davis vibe, as does “Natural Thing” later on the album. Legendary baritone sax man Willie Henderson is the man doing the horn arrangements on this album, and the fact that he used to work with Tyrone and The Chi-Lites may partially explain the nostalgic feeling that you get when you listen to this music. This album will appeal the most to lovers of those old sounds, and one senses that the artist is paying homage here to his old influences.
“Just For You”, written by Slim Harpo is done here in a style reminiscent of Sam & Dave, until Nulisch’s harp playing comes in and gives it a different twist. “It’s A Shame” (J.J. Malone) is another standout cut that makes you want to dance and shake it. It has a kind of Staple Singers groove and reminds me of Ben E. King a bit. The only straight blues song on the album is “Just A Little Blues”, (written by Nulisch and Gomes) featuring a simple but effective organ bit by Benjie Porecki, more impressive horns, great guitar licks by Johnny Moeller (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and more of Nulisch’s impressive vocals.
The songs in this collection cover a number of different tempos, rhythms and grooves, and they are intermixed perfectly, giving an added enjoyment to the experience. After the swampy feel of “Just A Little Blues” the producers insert “Far Too Lonely”, an upbeat and bouncy R&B number with a tight little groove and a classic 60’s sound.
Ballad lovers will dig “All The Love We Had” and Willie Henderson’s familiar horn parts lend a ‘Chi-Lites/Earth, Wind and Fire’ facet to the production. While not one of the stronger songs on the album, it does serve to showcase Nulisch’s versatile singing abilities. The best ‘organ song’ on the album has to be, “Let A Woman Be A Woman” (Nulisch and Gomes) which starts out like a Jack McDuff or Booker T. instrumental but morphs into a catchy vocal number with organ and guitar adding tasty licks throughout.
The Tyrone Davis sounding finale, “Natural Thing” is a fitting ending to a great album. I especially dig the piano track and the really strong rhythm guitar which really drive the song home.
The musicianship on this album is very good, and the recording production is top notch with a rich and full mix. Steve Gomes on bass and Robb Stupka on drums lay down a solid foundation essential to the success of this session. Kudus to the horn players and the background vocalists, and Victor Williams’ percussion playing adds a bunch to this record (I love the conga parts on “You Don’t Know Me” and “It’s A Shame”, and the tambourine on “”All The Love We Had”, ”Let A Woman Be A Woman” and “Natural Thing”).
Darrell Nulisch and Steve Gomes have to be respected as songwriters, even if they do borrow song structures and chord progressions from their idols from the past. Let’s face it, that old music by those old artists influenced so many of us but most of them are gone now. Darrell Nulisch has picked up the torch and is keeping the music alive for future generations, and at the same time proving that a white guy can perform this stuff. On both his interpretations and his original songs, Nulisch stays close to tradition but adds little creative elements to the music, enough to give a fresh and new quality to an old and respected genre. I plan to keep playing this album on my radio show and I recommend it to all music lovers, especially connoisseurs of that old 60’s and early 70’s R&B and soul.
Reviewer Bruce Williams is seasoned Blues musician (Junior Wells, Lefty Dizz and The Chicago Fire, Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins, Mark Hannon Blues Band). He learned the blues from some of Chicago’s masters and has shared the stage with legends such as Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Sammy Lawhorn, Hound Dog Taylor and Jimmy Johnson. His band appears at clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest. He hosts a weekly radio program on WRLR FM Public Radio and produces music out of his home based Highland Lake Records Studio.
All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
Darrell Nulisch's Just For You
Review by Hal Horowitz Singer/harpist Darrell Nulisch returns to the soul-blues he's best known for after 2007's more bluesy Goin Back to Dallas. His fifth release for the Severn imprint is a typically tasty set given a comfy, homey feel likely due to Nulisch once again working with longtime veteran sidemen such as guitarist Johnny Moeller, bassist Steve Gomes, and drummer Rob Stupka. Like Robert Cray, Nulisch is generally incorrectly pigeonholed as a blues singer when really he's a soul man more in line with '60s R&B greats like O.V. Wright, Otis Clay, and James Carr. These ten smooth, low-wattage yet passionate songs don't quite hit the 40-minute mark, but add up to an album most fans of the genre will likely return to often. Four obscure yet perfectly selected covers share space with six Nulisch/Gomes originals, and it says a lot that these new songs are every bit as authentic feeling as the versions of the tunes from Lou Pride, Slim Harpo, and others. Most of the material falls into the ballad category with a few easy shuffles increasing the tempo, but generally Nulisch, who also co-produces, keeps the mood in a more muted, occasionally swampy R&B vibe. Comparisons to the Stax and Brunswick labels will be easy for fans of the genre to spot, but the whiskey-and-honey voice of Nulisch also shifts into a jazz/gospel groove for "Let a Woman Be a Woman," propelled by tambourine and Benjie Porecki's churchy organ. Brass, courtesy of no less than eight horn players with arrangements by the great Willie Henderson, keeps the sound rooted in the classic soul that Nulisch doesn't update as much as polishes off. He's not breaking any new ground on Just for You, but he's nailed a groove that keeps paying dividends, especially when the material and performances are as passionate, tasteful, and beautifully crafted as they are here. That makes this another keeper in Darrell Nulisch's impressive catalog.
Darrell Nulisch CD Preview - Keith's Blues Blog
Tuesday September 15, 2009
Darrell Nulisch's Just For You
Soul-blues singer and harp player Darrell Nulisch will be releasing Just For You, his fifth album for Severn Records, on October 20, 2009. Following his Blues Music Award-nominated 2007 album Goin' Back To Dallas, a stripped-down rootsy collection of Texas blues, Just For You is a return to Nulisch's soulful roots.
Produced by Nulisch along with David Earl and bassist Steve Gomes, Just For You includes contributions from current Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Johnny Moeller and a full horn section with arrangements created by the legendary Willie Henderson. Just For You features six original songs penned by Nulisch, along with a handful of inspired cover songs: J.J. Malone’s "It’s a Shame," Slim Harpo’s "Just for You," Otis Clay's "The Woman Don’t Live Here Anymore," and the classic "Work for Love," which was originally recorded in Memphis by Lou Pride, who also adds his guest vocals to the song.
Nulisch is a seasoned blues veteran with better than three decades of performing and recording under his belt. He began singing full-time in 1978, spending seven years with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets as a founding member of the band and appearing on two albums. Nulisch spent some time performing with fellow Dallas bluesman Mike Morgan and the Crawl, and was lead singer for Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters for three years and two albums before launching his solo career in 1990.
- Reverend Keith A. Gordon
WICHITA BLUES SOCIETY
Just For You.
It is a happy day when a Darrell Nulisch CD appears in front of me. Nulisch is one of best of blue eyed soul/r&b singers there is. Just For You, the latest CD is soul record with a killer horn section, the always amazing Johnny Moeller on guitar and Nulisch vocals which blend retro sounds, Memphis soul, Motown pop, swamp blues and Lone Star Strut into his own blend of classic soul.
Opening with the powerful "The Woman Don’t Live Here No More”, I knew right off the bat that I was in for a good time. I hear Memphis sound with the horn opening and Moeller’s stinging guitar licks then Nulisch’s vocals slides in and we have a great opening cut. The first track on any album or CD is the hook to pull the listener in. Haul me in with this one.
Now we move to the next track, “The Woman Don’t Live Here No More,” this is the down and out belly rubbing dance tune, slow and sultry. “Work For Love”, takes down you down the Al Green road, chair dancing with organist Benjie Porecki leading the way with soulful background vocals.
The title tune “Just For You” let’s us hear Nulisch fine harmonica playing as well as his vocals that you will enjoy all the way through.
This CD is keeper, one that you will want in your collection.
– Randy Crump
Darrell Nulisch – 'Just For You' (Severn Records)
Following his Blues Music Award-nominated 2007 album Goin' Back To Dallas, a stripped-down rootsy collection of Texas blues, Just For You is said to be a return to Nulisch's soul-blues roots. Produced by Nulisch with David Earl and bassist Steve Gomes, Just For You includes contributions from current Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Johnny Moeller and a full horn section with arrangements created by the legendary Willie Henderson. (Release date: 10/20/09)
JUKE JOINT SOUL – OCTOBER 2, 2009
Just For You
Run Time: 37:55
I was supposed to see Darrell Nulisch early this summer, but circumstances saw otherwise and it didn't happen. I was sorely disappointed. This disc here only makes that disappointment a little bit more sour. With one of the best, if not the best soul record I've heard since last year. Nulisch made me eat my words in saying that there were only 3 white dudes out there who could really get down and sing soul music (normally, I don't associate race with musical talent but sometimes soul music is really hard for folks of the Caucasian persuasion to do correctly, just a matter of fact). Nulisch is one of the best vocalists around today and this 10-song set complete with southern soul classics and in the vein of southern soul originals - I can't find a bad song on this disc. I know if I listen to a CD more than five times from the time I receive it that it's meant to go on a top list somewhere.
Since his 2007 BMA-nominated blues release Goin' Back to Dallas, which was a retrospective disc for Nulisch in which he culled traditional blues territory that he explored in his early days with Anson Funderburgh, as one of the original Rockets. The retrospective allowed him to record songs that he had been doing for years but never put to wax. Here Nulisch takes more of a classic R&B and soul shot and it's smoking from top to bottom. The album kicks off with a stinging lead guitar line in the ways of Steve Cropper by current Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Johnny Moeller on the Nulisch/Steve Gomes original "You Don't Know Me." Packing a stomping Sam & Dave styled gospel-soul romp, Nulisch calls out pure and crisp with the vocals. Staying in Memphis, Nulisch revives Otis Clay's "The Woman Don't Live Here No More" with ominous fury. Next, Nulisch employs a song from labelmate Lou Pride's back catalog "Work For Love." Nulisch slips into a lighter, more falsetto toned vocal and smoothes his edges out to give a pure classic R&B romance to the song. Pride was also kind enough to step behind the mic for some back-up vocals. One of the most amazing takes on the album is Nulisch's rearrangement of Slim Harpo's tune "Just For You," which is the album's title track. Put into the pace of a soul-blues ballad of transcendent grace, Nulisch's lonesome call is far from Harpo's nasally vocals and swamp blues moan. The finishing touch to the tune is Nulisch's iconic harmonica adding some sparse licks here and there. Nulisch romps through J.J. Malone's classic one hit "It's A Shame," which to me is the only slight down turn on the disc.
The next five tracks are soul/R&B originals from the long time collaboration of Nulisch and Gomes. It's spooky how well these two men have managed to re-conjure these great tunes in such a contemporary setting. Legendary horn arranger Willie Henderson provides some amazing as always horn punches for all the tracks on the disc, helping us reminisce into the days of the Memphis Horns. Benjie Porecki plays some beautiful Booker T. Jones-styled organ parts underneath on all these tracks as well. In other words, the Severn Records House Band has played another winner here. Moeller's guitar work throughout is impeccable. I can't say enough about how good this disc. It's a sure fire bet this will end up on my year-end Top 25 list in December!
- Posted By Ben the Harpman to Juke Joint Soul at 10/02/2009 02:03:00 PM
Just for You Darrell Nulisch
Severn Records - CD 0047
Available late October 2009 from Severn Records.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Mark S. Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Darrell Nulisch has been around for a bit, having four discs previous to Just for You, all on the Severn label. The reason for that is instantly obvious: the soul side of the blues has been suffering a bit in the wake of an onslaught of burning rocksided efforts, and anyone who can dish it up like this is going to get noticed. His latest CD isn't a potpourri of just this, that, and the other thing, as is so often the case elsewhere, but rather a 100% showcase of very black-tinted blues from a white cat who jumped in over his head and found he liked it just fine.
With a backing crew of 17 musicians, Nulisch can go just about anywhere he wants: big band, cool jazz, San Francisco 60s, Motown, you name it, just as long as it has that slick and smooth hipsway and jive. Though he plays an occasional harp, the spotlight's on his somewhat Boz Scaggs-esque vocals…and Johnny Moeller's guitar work, a sound pealing out in precisely the right spots before fading back for satisfying and clever chord work (listen carefully to All the Love We Had for some alternatingly subtle and very noticeable surprises in wah and phasing). A brass octet provides strong Memphis vibes while Benjie Porecki's keyboards, with a slant on the organ, capture a smoky nightclub atmosphere.
I was looking for Duke Robillard's name in here, as he's been producinig exceedingly tight music along these lines, but, no, what we're hearing is the latest of the Severn label's very solid bids to rival the Stony Plain output. In that, Nulisch should be putting the sweat on the Duke just about now…as Robillard listens absorbed and admirative. And the blazing barnburners had better watch out as well: stuff like this can very easily sidle the hot boys out and dress the stage in a whole new set of threads.
* You Don't Know Me (Nulisch / Gomes)
* The Woman Don't Live Here No More (G. Holland)
* Work for Love (Sparks / Bryant / Miller)
* Just for You (James Moore)
* It's a Shame (J.J. Malone)
* Just a Little Blues (Nulisch / Gomes)
* Far Too Lonely (Nulisch / Gomes)
* All the Love We Had (Nulisch / Gomes)
* Let a Woman be a Woman (Nulisch / Gomes)
* Natural Thing (Nulisch / Gomes)
Edited by: David N. Pyles (email@example.com)
MIDWEST RECORD – CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 9, 2009
SEVERN RECORDS - DARRELL NULISCH/Just for You:
Traditional Texas blues rocker that has paid dues through Anson Funderburgh, Mike Morgan and Ronnie Earl stints finally decided it was time to hog the spotlight all for hisself. It was the right decision. Vocalist Nulisch brings a southern show band feeling to this set making it commercial enough for newbie ears to grab on to without alienating listeners that like their blues with soul. Even enlisting the big voiced Lou Pride as a background singer, this full bodied, well rounded date is just as easily at home at a frat party as it is a roadhouse. It’s got all the right moves in all the right places making this the kind of unknown set you can listen to without it feeling like work. Check it out.
– Chris Spector
HITTIN’ THE NOTE – ISSUE #63
COMPACT DREAMS COLUMN
No other singer has the honeyed timbre and naturally supple phrasing of Darrell Nulisch. After an album revisiting some old Texas blues haunts, Nulisch and his longtime band are back at home singing and playing their own special blend of lush Memphis soul, Motown pop, and crisp, concise blues melodies on Just For You. Fleshed out with expansive horn arrangements and backing vocalists, the songs amount to a sumptuous feast that wonderfully recalls the days of the classics. “You Don’t Know Me” is aggressive, with guitarist (and current Fabulous T-Bird) Johnny Moeller flicking sharp daggers. “It’s a Shame” is bouncy and bright, and “Work for Love” attracts by way of positive words and smooth grooves. The album works its magic over and over again. Real music with real feeling never goes out of style. (SevernRecords.com)
– Tom Clarke
Over the course of much of his career, Darrell Nulisch has straddled a line between blues and soul, consciously attempting to synthesize the two into a genre he himself calls ‘bluesoul’ – to the extent, in fact, that he named and earlier solo effort just that.
His last outing, though, 2007’s excellent Going Back To Dallas, landed firmly in the blue end of the spectrum, with a collection of tunes well within twelve-bar convention, punctuated by more of his understated harmonica work than usual. This time out he’s gone to the other extreme, with a carefully crafted collection of blue-eyed soul in a classic vein.
Once again working with the crack Severn house band, Nulisch delivers a handful of originals, co-written with long-time bassist and musical foil Steve Gomes, along with lesser-known covers from the likes of Slim Harpo (“Just For You”), J. J. Malone (“It’s A Shame”), and an obscure but timeless tune by labelmate Lou Pride (“Work For Love”). He’s aided by more old friends, including guitarist Johnny Moeller and drummer Rob Stupka, with Severn’s Benjie Porecki on keyboards. There’s a full horn section on most tracks, expertly charted for that classic soul punch, and background vocals as appropriate.
In short, this outing is a world away from the stripped-down simplicity of Nulisch’s recent return to the blues. There’s only a brief glimpse or two of his restrained harmonica, and arrangements are big and bold, though never fussy – just solid, supple grooves in support of his quietly passionate pleading.
Nulisch, whose career includes a stint as vocalist for James Cotton after the latter’s voice failed entirely, is quite simply a great soul singer, the kind who makes it all seem easy yet packs a powerful punch with the sheer emotive articulation of his easy, relaxed phrasing. Here he tackles tunes that borrow from blues and R&B, but he and Gomes aren’t afraid to add the odd exotic touch (congas, flutes) to craft a full yet spacious sound ideally tailored to Nulisch’s talents - simmering, soulful support alternating with brassy swagger. Players are all top-notch, and producer / recording engineer David Earl (owner of and musical visionary behind Severn Records) does a fine job of creating an ambient atmosphere that keeps each instrument sounding natural and organic – in addition to a stellar collection of blue-eyed soul, this is a fine sounding disc.
Another wonderful addition to a genuinely impressive catalogue, this one maintains Nulisch’s standard for quietly yet consistently excellent recordings. Very highly recommended!
DOWNBEAT October 2003
CD Review Darrell Nulisch: Times Like These (Severn 0020)
A quarter-century into his career, the New England-based singer with Texas roots delivers a wonderfully intelligent and enjoyable album that straddles blues and Southern soul music. Nulisch's pure and facile voice shows a special affinity with little celebrated songs from Little Milton, Ray Charles, Junior Parker, Otis Redding and the Temptations. He and bassist Steve Gomes have developed into fine songwriters, with their gently optimistic "Handle It With Care." More than vocals and songwriting account for the music's true depth of feelingŃsavor the horn charts by Jackie Wilson arranger Willie Henderson and the excellent contributions from guitarist Jon Moeller, drummer Robb Stupka, keyboards specialist Benjie Porecki and Gomes.
This man is a vocalist with one of the warmest, inviting sets of pipes in the business. period. When Darrell Nulisch makes records with his long time band, the results are always a pectacular mix of velvety southern soul and solid Lone Star blues. Times like These might be the group's best document of that mix yet. Like all truly fine music, it has a timeless quality because Nulisch is pure in both his intentins and his executiion. He isn't afraid to eschew anything and everything modern, trusting instead his instincts and the history he so obviously adores. That's a modus operandi that puts a brand-new sheen on an age-old form.
The flgelhorn, for instance, that punctuates the lovely "Handle It With Care" is not something you usually hear these days, but it's absolutely proper for the glrious soul and the virtuous intentions that the song projects. That one, among several written by Nulisch and bass player Steve Gomes, stands out particularly because it's like an old forgotten standard that bursts out new and fresh. Nulisch, a Dallas, Texan, has a particular knack for singing the kind of material that stars like Otis Redding used to make famous. But he's nothing if not versatile. He came up singing with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, Mike Morgan and the Crawl and then Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.
The Funderburgh and Morgan connections are especially evident here in "Something Else", a direct-to-the-point Texas shuffl if there ever was one. He's revered enough these days to command the front lines in the legendary James Cotton's Band.
Field Hollerin' - Tom Clarke - King Biscuit Time - October 2003 Volume 10 issue 5
The blues scene is remarkably prolific, with a surprising number of artists devoting themselves to the great American music form. For every B.B. King or Buddy Guy or Etta James, there are dozens of first-rate performers, many of them with careers measured in decades, plying their trade and making plenty of fine music night after night.
This week we have another example of a journeyman blues singer who has appeared on at least 15 albums since the early 1980s, and who has made probably his best recording yet. Times Like These is the new CD by Darrell Nulisch.
While not exactly endowed with a typical bluesman's name, nevertheless, Darrell Nulisch has impressive credentials. A native of Dallas, Texas, Nulisch established himself in the Lone Star State as a member of Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets through most of the 1980s. In 1987, he moved to New England to perform with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, with whom he recorded two albums as lead singer for the group. He has also recorded with guitarist Hubert Sumlin and boogie-woogie piano great David Maxwell, as well as leading his own group Texas Heat. In recent times, he has come to be known among blues fans for his work with harmonica legend James Cotton. Times Like These is Nulisch's fifth recording as a leader and it puts him into a setting that's as much soul as straight blues. He is joined by a large backing group, including a prominent horn section that nicely compliments Nulisch's generally laid-back style.
Unlike many blues singers, Nulisch's trademark sound is not so much built on power -- being a screamer or shouter, as they say, but in a decidedly understated style, Nulisch delivers the songs on the CD with a good deal of class. He could be described as much as soul singer as a bluesman. And the material on the CD reflects that, with both the originals and the covers representing both facets. Times Like These is evenly divided between original compositions, most written by Nulisch with bass player Steve Gomes, and old songs originally recorded by artists ranging from Ray Charles to the Temptations.
Nulisch is joined by a tight band, with whom he regularly plays, and who also like the singer and harmonica man, are somewhat understated players. It's the kind of band whose performances add up to more than the sum of the parts. On guitar is Jon Molier, on keyboards is Benji Porecki who has worked in the jazz world, the drummer is Robb Stupka, and Nulisch's composing partner Steve Gomes is on the bass. There is a six-piece horn section heard pretty much throughout the CD, arranged by Willie Henderson, who previously worked with the late Jackie Wilson and Tyrone Davis. For the cover material, Nulisch and company generally keep the feel of the original recordings, while adding their own twist.
The CD begins with one of those remakes, a fairly obscure Little Milton Campbell song called Lonely Man. The full horn section assumes an almost-big-band dimension while Nulisch delivers the song with his combination of soulfulness and blues energy. <<>>
Nulisch's soul side takes center stage on the original song Handle It With Care, a tune that is simultaneously sunny in sound and melancholy in mood. <<>>
Pianist David Maxwell makes an appearance on one of the CD's bluesiest tracks, Something Else. The original song's lyrics are classic blues, while Maxwell's piano adds a great boogie sound. Nulisch is also featured prominently on harmonica. <<>>
From the soul repertoire comes Ashford & Simpson's Running Out, which Nulisch and company give a decidedly Memphis-inflected sound. <<>>
One of the CD highlights among the cover songs is Ray Charles' Snow Is Falling, which both captures the feel of Ray Charles, while allowing Nulisch to give his own vocal spin to the song. <<>>
While Nulisch usually covers more obscure material, he does include a familiar Temptations song that has also been recorded by Bob Marley and by the Rolling Stones. Don't Look Back maintains the soulful sound, with Nulisch putting in a really fine vocal performance on top of he big horn section. <<>>
Among the original songs, the standout is the slow, minor-key blues Good Thing. This is just the sort of material at which Nulisch's understated but plaintive vocal approach really excels. It's also a fine song to begin with. <<>>
Nulisch and company serve up an Otis Redding song, That's a Good Idea, and also put in a strong performance that sums up the CD -- Nulisch is a lot more understated than Otis Redding, while the typical Memphis rhythmic bounce is maintained. It's another strong performance by everyone involved. <<>>
Darrell Nulisch may not exactly be a household name, even among blues fans, but the veteran performer has turned in probably the best album yet in his nearly 25-year recording career. Joined by the large group with horns, the CD shows roughly equal measures of the blues and soul, all marked by his classy, understated vocal approach. It's not the kind album that will hit you over the head with wailing guitar solos or dramatic, impassioned singing, but it is music that will really stand up for the long haul -- music that will sound as good five or ten years from now as it does today.
Our sound quality grade is an "A." The mix is first-rate, with the lead vocals handled with the kind of subtlety that Nulisch puts into his performances, and the overall clarity is commendable.
Some people like their blues blistering hot, while others crave 10-minute guitar solos. That is not Darrell Nulisch's style. His new CD Times Like These delivers blues and soul that ranges from fun songs to plaintive laments, all served up with plenty of class.
The Graham Weekly Album Review #1329
(c) Copyright 2003 George D. Graham. All rights reseved. This review may not be copied to another Web site without written permission.
"The concept of soulfulness transcends both race and age; one doesn't need to be black or old in order to have soul. Case in point is singer /harmonica player Darrell Nulisch. Darrell Nulisch has soul. He's also the model of consistency. Every single CD he's released throughout his long musical career has been as good, or better, than the one before it. His latest, Times Like These, continues this pattern. To put it succinctly, this is an excellent album.
The disc opens with "Lonely Man," an up-tempo Texas blues shuffle, featuring Nulisch's charcoal rich voice, Jon Moeller's tasteful guitar and the solid horn section led by soul veteran Willie Henderson.
The first few notes of cut two, "Handle It With Care," will have you grabbing the liner notes to find out who wrote the original version of what sounds like a classic '60s soul chestnut; instead, this smooth, soulful tune is a Nulisch composition, although it covers the same territory traversed 40 years ago by singers like Arthur Alexander. Benji Porecki's B-3 solo puts the icing on this piece of gourmet cake.
The versatile Nulisch then changes gears to bring forth a mid-tempo Chicago blues, "Something Else," with his hard driving harmonica work and Porecki's delightful piano work.
It's back to more of a soul bag with one of the few covers on Times Like These, as Nulisch and especially the horns give the classic "Don't Look Back" a Tyrone Davis-style treatment. Moeller is then given a starring role on the slow, mournful O.V. Wright-ish original "Good Thing."
Moeller steps into the spotlight again on the Ray Charles seasonal blues, "The Snow Is Falling." If there was a Grammy category for 'Best Blues Guitar Licks on an Independent Recording,' then Moeller would certainly receive a nomination for this one.
Nulisch would sound great on this CD even if he performed every song a capella, but it's the players behind him that really make Times Like These the gem that it is. Still another sterling performance comes on the pleading soul title cut, with Porecki punctuating the song with numerous awesome organ breaks.
The up-tempo "That's A Good Idea" has Nulisch doing more of an Otis Redding thing, with the horns being given plenty of room to get funky. This is another great original number that recalls the style of a bygone era without slavishly recreating it.
That last statement pretty much sums up this great disc. These songs all could have been recorded 35-45 years ago, yet they all sound so fresh and invigorated that Times Like These will undoubtedly rank as of the best of 2003.
Blues Bytes - Bill Mitchell - June 2003
As the original vocalist for Anson Funderburgh's Rockets, Darrell Nulisch was featured on the inaugural release on the late, lamented Black Top label. After a second outing with Anson, Darrell went on to work with Ronnie Earl before releasing a fine disc of his own for the label.
His next outing was called "BlueSoul," a title that summed up his musical philosophy quite succinctly; for a number of years now he's been moving toward a sublime synthesis of the two forms. "Times Like These," Darrell's third release on MarylandÕs Severn Records, sees his vision fully realized.
Darrell's possessed of a fine if not terribly remarkable voice, with just a hint of Texas drawl; but he's unquestionably a superior singer, somehow able to convey a wealth of emotion without the need to resort to histrionics. He's backed here by a fine band; although advance copies don't list credits, I'd be inclined to guess it's the usual suspects, including long-time cohort Johnny Moeller on guitar and label mate Benjie Porecki on keys.
The lack of supporting information also means I can't list song titles with any guarantee of accuracy; but I can say with absolute certainty that the music is indeed a perfect blend of deep soul and Texas-influenced blues, all done with Darrell's usual impeccable taste. Just listen to the gently swaying second cut, and the way the horns and organ alternately accentuate and support each other; or the third track, a greasy Jimmy Reed-style blues where Darrell's thick-toned harp is used sparingly to maximum effect.
Like Darrell's almost laconic singing, arrangements throughout are relaxed, the grooves invariably easy going; that's not by any means to imply a lack of passion, it's just that it's tempered by a restraint that comes only with maturity. Left behind are the mercurial exuberance of youth and its unbridled energy; in their stead, Darrell offers the considered reflections of a hard-earned wisdom and experience.
If it's over-the-top pyrotechnics you're after you'll probably find this a bit on the sleepy side; bluz-rockers needn't apply. But if your tastes run to music that's carefully crafted with intelligence and taste, if you appreciate the merits of a subtle and well-placed accent and can live without blistering barrages of notes . . . if you don't mind equal doses of soul mixed in with the twelve-bars, and can handle a little romance as well . . . well, Darrell's as good as it gets.
An absolutely stellar outing by one of the best singers around. This is one for the ages!
Blues on Stage - John Taylor - May 2003
When we first heard him fronting Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets more than two decades ago, it was quickly clear that Darrell Nulisch had something more in his hip pocket than just his harmonicas; as gritty and resourceful as his playing was on that small yet worthy blues instrument, it was his voice that would spell trouble for just about anyone else choosing to stand in front microphone with a blues band behind them.
Times Like These marks another slice of exceptional work from Nulisch on the Maryland-based Severn label, and along the lines of his previous offerings, it's a grinding and incredibly well crafted recording featuring a mix of sizzling blues, R&B, and blue-eyed soul. One of the things that marks the work of Darrell Nulisch is, that upon listening to him, had he been of age and recording during the Stax era, he'd have easily been placed in the upper echelon with Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and others, and his voice is perfectly suited to what's included. Little Milton's Lonely Man powers ahead with golden vocals out in front of Jon Moeller's smoldering guitar and a blazing horn section chugging on all cylinders, and the rich and soulful original, Handle It With Care, bubbles along with Benjie Porecki's fine B-3 work and a soft glow from the horns balancing things out. Something Else, another Nulisch-penned item, recalls the Excello offerings of Lightnin' Slim decades ago with great down-home harp, while Don't Look Back is handled with class and aplomb, showing just how much Darrell can push the boundaries and still leave his roots intact. Good Thing is as lowdown as a minor-key blues can get and Moeller steps forward once again with more edge in his concise solo than many would manage in an entire album, and for the Ashford and Simpson nugget, Runnin' Out, the groove steps up and becomes more menacing and deliberate. Ray Charles' The Snow Is Falling is a rippling shuffle where Moeller tosses out chunks of nasty blues guitar ahead, behind, and all around Nulisch's gravel-soaked voice and hands in one his finest moments in a startling pair of twelves that reek of grease.
The title track and Breaking Out are two more stellar examples of Nulisch delivering the goods over a time-tested Southern-soul grinder as well as a throbbing R&B backbeat, and for Otis Redding's That's A Good Idea, everything clicks smoothly. Whether tackling long-lost classics and breathing new life into them, or writing his own finely-tempered material, Darrell Nulisch has an innate ability to make seamless recordings that flow as smooth as warm molasses without any of the artificial sweeteners that mask the true flavors of this veteran. His drive, intensity, and burning passion all appear in Times Like These, and if there's any justice at all, this should garner a few awards when the smoke clears. Hats off to David Maxwell, Robb Stupka, Steve Gomes, and everyone else involved in creating this masterpiece. Due May 27, 2003, but in the meantime, head to www.severnrecords.com for tour dates and loads more.
The line between blues and soul music is probably hazier today than ever before. Marquis blues players like Lucky Peterson and Carl Weathersby have recently incorporated large amounts of soul and funk into both their live acts and recordings. Soul legends like Wilson Pickett and James Brown now share blues festival stages with the likes of B.B. King and Taj Mahal.
While some blues purists protest the soul presence or influence, others welcome what it brings to the musical table, especially in terms of song structure and vocals. No one will argue, however, that it takes a good set of pipes to tackle soul. Conversely, a knock against much of todayÕs blues is that vocal prowess has been replaced by teenage guitar show offs who canÕt carry a tune. What makes someone like Darrell Nulisch so special is his ability to deliver soul-drenched vocals and play blues harp with equal dexterity.
Nulisch, who began his musical career in Dallas, but now lives near Boston, says he owes as much to soul singers Otis Redding, Al Green and O.V. Wright as he does to traditional blues men like Jimmy Reed or Sonny Boy Williamson. A founding member of Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, he also had early front man stints with Mike Morgan and the Crawl and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. His decision to leave the Lone Star State for the eastern seaboard had more to do with geography than any disappointment with the music scene.
"Texas is so big, we could drive an entire day and still not get to the next gig," says Nulisch.
Fortunately for his fans, the move to Massachusetts didnÕt diminish his love of southern blues and soul. His latest recording, I Like It That Way, earned him a ŌBest Soul BluesÕ W.C. Handy nomination. Still, Nulisch remains humble, if not self-effacing. When asked to comment on his often-overlooked harp playing, he laughingly states "I donÕt even compare myself to other players; I play out of self-defense only".
Humility aside, Nulisch canÕt deny the fact that his vocals are so highly regarded that he was asked to sing in James CottonÕs tour band a couple of years back and still performs live with the harp legend whose own voice has been reduced to a whisper. Darrell Nulisch and his band bring their soulful brand of blues to PeterboroughÕs Red Dog tavern on Friday April 12.
The Peterborough Examiner Al Kirkcaldy, contributing writer
Boston-based singer Darrell Nulisch lobs another stick of soul-blues dynamite, this one ignited by the opening "Lonely Man," a Little Milton number that that the ex-Texan makes sound like a lost Bobby Bland diamond. With touches of funky organ, cocktail keys, and elegant horns, this is his most sophisticated disc. Even when heÕs delivering a grinding blues shuffle, like "Something Else," his Southern-accented voice has a way of soaring through notes and adding fine details to his phrases that marks him as one of the countryÕs best blues warblers Ń with a warmer tone and more relaxed approach than, say, that of fellow blue-eyed soul man Delbert McClinton.
As swinging as ballads like the Stax-flavored "DonÕt Look Back" and "ThatÕs a Good Idea" are, and as much as "Right Here at Home" smacks of classic Memphis soul, the albumÕs centerpiece is the title track. Nulisch has penned a song of hope for the New Depression. "I see so many people lost in a fallen world," he sings. "TheyÕre treading water and going nowhere/And I sit and wonder what can/What can one man do. . . . In times like these itÕs up to each and every man/To take time to try to understand/That love is the only thing/That will surely pull us through." ItÕs a simple but enduring message that wonÕt waver to the beat of war drums or the fall of stock prices.
The Phoenix - TED DROZDOWSKI July 2003
"Nulisch draws a variety of quietly intense emotions from as appetizing a program of originals and covers as a soul-blues singer could ever hope for. Nulisch brings warmth, intimacy and intensity...to this memorable album"
"Pulse Texas-raised singer Darrell Nulisch remains one of the best soul-injected bluesmen around. His gift is the ability to grace every performance with elan, without scarificing the grit that's essential to the music"
"One of the most complete works of music to come down the pike in some time...The disc flows so well without one weak cut that its almost like a mood itself...When its over you'll catch yourself saying "Thanks for the lovely evening!"
"Darrell Nulisch is one hell of a singer - the kind of guy who can twist a note into a teardrop"
The Boston Phoenix
"One of the best sould singers of recent history"
The Courier - Journal Weekend Extra
"It has been a couple of decades since soul sounded as good"
The Toronto Star
"Darrell Nulisch has a career topping disc here...Put this one on your must buy list. Very, very tasty stuff"
"The truth about Darrell Nulisch is that he is one of the most talented singers, harmonica players and songwriters...His songs are expressive and impassioned, filled with emotions and feelings. And he delivers them in an easy unaffected way that is pure listening joy."
"Darrell Nulisch and his highly original and deeply soulful approach to blues and soul music prove infinitely satisfying"
"Nulisch has one of the richest, soulful voices to grace modern blues...Nulisch caresses each word like a fine gift...the 12 cuts featured here are well so done that you'll have a difficult time justifying the removal of this disc from your player"
Jazz and Blues Report
"Darrell Nulisch is one of the most soulful vocalists on the current scene. He's an excellent writer of passionate Southern soul songs and rousing Texas shuffles, and he's a topnotch harmonica player. Throughout the album, Nulisch's warm, world-weary vocals infuse each song with a deeply personal mix of vulnerability and determination."
"...On his fourth release, the soul-driven singer/songwriter and under-appreciated harp player dives in and does ten stunning tracks of pure rhythm and blues gold. "
All Music Guide
"Darrell Nulisch ... demonstrates that he is one of the most expressive and emotionally rich Blues vocalists around. Nulisch is a smooth, accomplished singer, and the strength of this set lies in his voice and his choice of songs with strong poetic content. I Like It That Way (is) a polished tightly arranged and beautifully performed effort that find favor with many fans of R&B and soul-blues"