April 10, 2006
Mystic Eyes
Rhythm & Blues

Album Review

Not to be confused with the rather obscure '60s doo wop act, this concoction of studio musicians and members of other Boston/New York City blues and soul groups is a rather surprisingly accomplished R&B based set that succeeds despite, or more likely because of, the members' diverse backgrounds. Perhaps inevitably the attention is focused on lead singer Jo Lilly, aka Sam Deluxe from Boston's Duke & the Drivers, whose soulful rasp falls between Willy DeVille, Southside Johnny Lyon, and Bob Dylan. He also wrote eight of the ten tracks on this short but powerful debut. Guitarist Bobby Keyes -- not the Stones' and rock sax veteran who spells his name "Keys" -- digs into a tough but melodic urban R&B groove on a few tracks. The songs are what make this click though. Ballads such as "Heavy Rain" and "Some Things About Love" hit a sweet spot with the latter a weeper that wouldn't sound out of place on an Otis Redding album as Keyes plays a modified, somewhat jazzier version of Steve Cropper's celebrated fills. The rain soaked backstreet vibe of "Out of the Blue" incorporates subtle Latin shadings and an acoustic based cover of the Jarmels' "A Little Bit of Soap," one of only two covers here, shows it to be a lost slow dance classic hiding behind the original up-tempo version that pales next to this emotionally riveting interpretation. "Change My Mind" brings country twang into the equation, but the band's version of "It Has to Be" transforms it into a fiery, shuffling Texas blues territory only hinted at in Don Gibson's performance of his classic. This is bluesy soul at its finest and least pretentious. Neither retro nor contemporary, the Mystics nail their sound with an offhand charm that shimmers with echoes of the past that truly are timeless.
Hal Horowitz, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Satisfy You
  2. It Has to Be
  3. Heavy Rain
  4. Change My Mind
  5. On My Way
  6. Ding Dong
  7. Can't Say Enough
  8. Some Things About Love
  9. A Little Bit of Soap
  10. Out of the Blue
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