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Published: 2011/01/10
by Brandon Findlay

Scott Sharrard Band
Ante Up

As you pull Scott Sharrard’s third album, Ante Up, out of its jacket, you get a tinge of vinyl-era reminisce, and one would imagine this was intended. The album feels like a throwback to the glory of fresh needles and Hi Records- even the album art comes off as a bit of homage to the 12” legacy.

So if we are talking vinyl records, then we are talking 45 minute records. At 41 minutes and change, Ante Up is an enjoyable ride with clear intent right from the “Put Your Soul Records On” opener. The album builds through the lively “Riverside” and the Howard Tate nugget, “8 Days on The Road.”

All guitarists owe Riley B. King an unpayable debt, and the slow-burning tribute of “Losing My Faith In You” is a blues delight that buffers the surprising rearrange of Stevie Wonder’s “All Day Sucker,” which moves between a Texas shuffle and the original’s backbeat.

One of Sharrard’s three originals, “Stone” is the one song that sits apart from the soul/blues synergy, and the hard rocking nod to Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” adds welcome diversity. “In The Right Place” by Gregg Allman Band-mate Jay Collins, and the underrated Band masterpiece “It Makes No Difference” are a supple, subtle close to the album. Stripped- bare of its harmony vocals, and down in its ensemble orchestrations- “Difference” is offered with an intimate passion that is near unsettling at first, yet serves as a finale fit enough.

Ante Up hearkens back to an era when a true music lover had a relationship with their album collection. Taken as a whole, this solid slab of soul is satisfying in ways now lost on the American majority. Sharrard’s quartet includes drummer Diego Voglino, bassist Jeff Hanley, and keyboardist Brian Charette, with Collins adding horns throughout.

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