One look at the big map of Texas on the cover of this CD, and you know what's coming: Guitarist Ray McCarty is going to deliver some solid blues and jazz, but not without letting you know where it comes from. Mission accomplished ; McCarty soars from smooth to sassy on 10 tracks of mixed numbers ranging from smooth jazz to blues and everything in between.
McCarty's playing is bluesy and laced with impressive jazz and bebop runs and rock 'n roll heart- very much like fellow Texan Eric Johnson, whose sometimes bass player Kyle Brock even guest stars on several tracks of this CD.
Tracks like We're Still Here and The Light could easily grace the airwaves of your local smooth jazz radio station, but are luckily not that cheese-filled; McCarty digs into the strings like a bluesman, and delivers some very cool lines and melodies that mix a plethora of styles. Very reminiscent of players like Jeff Golub (formerly of Avenue Blue; new CD entitled Out Of The Blue), he applies a heavy-handed style to light melodies (track 6 "Mister Magic"), thus creating the impression of smooth jazz but really showcasing something far funkier and more intense. McCarty's fun and funky rendition of Watermelon Man sounds like what would happen if Herbie Hancock sat in with a roadhouse blues band during an intense all-night jam (Herbie would be proud). The original tune What's Up With That finds McCarty rockin' out a slight bit, wah pedal and all, and although is not my favorite tune on the CD is very representative of McCarty's style and overall sound.
Bottom line, this is a fresh and funky twist on what could be easily called a contemporary jazz record, but again, Ray McCarty lends himself to so many styles that no matter what you called it you'd be short-changing the album. Best said, McCarty serves up a very nice set of blues and jazz-inspired jams, all complete with that slight Texas twang for backbone.