This Time Around – Jamie McClean
Dirty Dozen Brass Band guitarist Jamie McLean peels off his day job Bourbon Street funk suit to reveal torn jeans and a stained t-shirt for his rock and roll bar gig on This Time Around. Filled with big arena chords and hot licks, McLean’s solo record could get the room a-rockin’ as long as he sticks with the fuzzy, unintelligible vocals that plague the average sawdust joint. He’s a hell of a blues-rock guitarist, but he’s no poet laureate.
"Home Movies" opens the record with sheer classic rock force — pounding drums, soulful piano, solid bass and big, loud riffing — but McLean’s lyrical metaphors are unclear: is he making home porn, using clumsy pick-up lines to pick up hot bar sluts, or spouting offensive sweet talk in a misguided search for true love? "Woman Stay" suffers much the same fate, but its sizzling blues riff gets sick on saccharin Hallmark dribble much like the strumming power ballad "Yesterday’s News."
Despite his literary shortcomings, McLean’s wordplay is, if not laureate material, at least sincere. An innocent, idyllic love gets an average Joe’s tribute on "Queen of Make Believe," and a rag-time slow shuffle complements the sepia-tinged nostalgia of rebellious youth on "One of the Innocent." The opener’s same predatory lover walks a hot blues strut on "Innocence Lost," and funky horns shine on the closer, "Too Much of Anything." Unfortunately for McLean, This Time Around has too much plain-faced lyricism but not enough rock soul to save it.