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Blues meets R&B

Black Bone Collective
Black Bone Collective
By Black Bone Collective

Self-released: 2006


This review first appeared in the January 18, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

An unlikely but very likable coupling of a straight-ahead blues band with a powerhouse R&B singer, San Diego's Black Bone Collective sounds a bit like a long-lost late '60s experiment – but without sounding dated. The five men playing behind singer Rosenilyne Hopson create a thick, swirling psychedelic electric blues (think Humble Pie or Savoy Brown), while Hopson has a classic soul sound like she came out of Memphis, Detroit or Philly back in the day.

The band and Hopson combine on a jazzy arrangement to burnish "Willow Weep for Me" to a deep, luxuriant sheen (not sure which of the guitarists solos here, but it's a gem). So it's a touch disappointing that none of the band's own songs comes close to capturing the purity of magic heard on "Willow."

None of the songs are bad, nor even boring. But neither do any of them stick in your head the way the band's playing does. The traditionally styled "Riverside Blues" is probably the best of the band's own songs (and Hopson stretches out to the purest blues she sings here), and even it's most memorable for the musicianship the band displays in playing it.

These six folks have got some serious chops musically, and as much as this disc sizzles, one can only imagine how good they must be live. But their album lacks the sort of show-stopper that could put them on the map but good.