Ain’t Skeert Tunes
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2023
Jimmie Bratcher is a singer, songwriter, storyteller, guitarist, cookbook writer, preacher and author… and those are just the things I know about. Keeping the “Many a truth is spoken in jest” and “Laughter is the best medicine” proverbs in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he took his many life’s experiences and spun them into a stand-up act to add to his repertoire. After all, he is a healer of sorts.
On his thirteenth album, Far Enough, Jimmie Bratcher – on guitars and vocals – is joined by: Eric Stark – his co-producer and writing partner – on keys, lap steel, Irish whistle, background vocals and strings & horn arrangements; Craig Kew on bass; Brandon Draper on drums and percussion; Aaron Mayfield on organ; Charity Von Mozafari and Charmelle Cofield on vocals; Rod Lincoln on drums; Micah Burdick on acoustic guitar; Judah Earl on strings, and the horn section of: Bob Harvey and Steve Molloy on trumpet; Mark Cohick on baritone sax; Brett Jackson on tenor sax; and last but certainly not least, Sherri Bratcher on encouragement.
With all of the disc’s eleven songs being originals, many of them are original originals – that’s my way of saying songs that are written out of having lived the story being told vs songs written from creativity and imagination. Non-fiction vs fiction being the proper term, I guess.
The album opens up with the title track, which is actually “Far Enough” (The Story of Mike & Clark). It’s a story about finding sobriety – through the welcome help of a caring friend, of course – told as only Jimmie can tell it. Musically, between the lyrics, Jimmie’s heartfelt presentation of them, the melodic and angelic voices of Charity and Charmelle on the harmonies, and the mighty organ and piano leads from Aaron and Eric, the song takes on a certain hymnal quality.
From every perspective, including its title, “My Name Is Sinner” is an absolutely powerful production. Giving what could very well be one of the most attention-commanding vocal performances I’ve ever heard, Jimmie leaves his heart out there on this one. That said, the song’s captivating lyrics and accompanying compelling musicianship all help take it to a whole other level. Let me throw this out there right now; if you are reading this and you happen to be someone who is on one of those ‘awards nominating committees’, if this one isn’t on your ‘Song of the Year’ list, get off the damn committee!
Giving everyone a chance to catch their breath, me included, the next track is a relaxed acoustic ballad titled “The Road Leads Home”. It features Jimmie showcasing his sensitive side on an emotional and beautifully done duet with Charity and pleasing acoustic guitar work from Micah.
The road to recovery is a process and taking ownership is a part of that process. On “Chains”, ownership doesn’t get any more real than this:
“I made this prison that I live in, I built it stone by stone.
I forged these chains that I’m wearing, link by link, my sin, my own.
I’ve made some bad decisions, choices that made no sense.
Don’t ask me any questions, denial is my defense…”
If you think those are some powerful lyrics, and they indeed are, just wait till you hear them – and more – sung by Jimmie and Charmelle on another emotional track. Musically, it’s a heartwarming ballad on which Jimmie and Eric showcase masterful guitar and piano skills.
Oddly enough, the song titled “Why Is It We Don’t Dance Anymore” is actually one that unquestionably fills the dance floor. It’s a rocker led by thunderous rhythm coming from Brandon’s (drums) and Craig (bass), with level raising support from Aaron on the keys, and the full horn section – led by a killer tenor standout from Brett – all raising pure hell. Lyrically, the song is symbolic of Jimmie missing some of what life gets in the way of allowing to still happen.
Jimmie is far enough into this righteous journey of his to no longer be making excuses, but it is indeed the truth he speaks as he addresses the constant temptations that exist from “Living Here In Babylon”…. where it’s hard to know right from wrong. With a roaring rhythm behind him, Jimmie’s rocking out some of the disc’s best guitar work on this one.
As I listen to the disc’s final track, “Save Me, From Myself”, I’m doing so in disbelief. After “My Name Is Sinner” led me to believe nothing else I’d hear for a very long time would move me like it did, that very long time wound up being about thirty short minutes. Jimmie’s gut-wrenching presentation of the songs melancholic lyrics are spine tingling; his scorching blues guitar licks totally enhance his pain; the rhythm and percussion just reek of gloom; and making all of this sound unworldly, Eric magically turns the organ into a full string section. I can’t recall if there was ever a release that featured two songs getting “Song Of the Year” nominations, but I’m liking the chances of it happening here.
Other songs on this must have release include: “Memphis Slim”; “Don’t Count Me Out”; “When He Dreams”; and “Don’t Bring That Evil Around Here”.
It’s been some years since I last gave out “The Blewzzy” – a symbolic award I used give to my personal favorite of all the albums I reviewed for the year – but with that said, with eight months still to go, this would have been the one to beat in 2023.
Should like to find out more about Jimmie Bratcher, just go to – www.jimmiebratcher.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient