Blues Music Magazine
By Joseph Jordan
Chris Cain has been near-legendary on the Northern California Blues Scene for decades.
The San Jose, CA-born Cain has previously released 14 indie and small-label recordings, and though all were regionally acclaimed, he’s never broken out to the extent his talents were recognized beyond the Left Coast and impressively, several huge swaths of Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and Down Under.
Now with Blues powerhouse Alligator Records having signed the 64-year youngster, and the release of his sparkling new effort “Raisin’ Cain,” this extraordinarily talented musician will quite possibly gain the States’ and perhaps the worldwide recognition he truly deserves.
Cain’s a multi-Blues Music Award nominee who can be completely true to himself as well as give listeners musical hints and tips of the hat to many masters on his guitar. Along with his deep, rich and more than pleasing baritone vocals, he’s a consummate musician.
The twelve, all-original songs on the album showcase the vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter in his Blues element. The proceedings start off with the funky “Hush Money” where one can hear evidence of Cain’s similar vocal style to that of B.B. King, a major influence on Chris’ development as a musician.
The more than humorous “I Think I Got Off Cheap,” is one of the strongest cuts on the record. Albert King rears his head with Cain’s emulative playing, all the while making his solos solely his own.
“Down on the Ground” has a Gospel-feel as Cain’s heartfelt vocals meet his lyrics of desperate, sorrowful living. It’s a passionate statement brimming with empathy for the destitute and down-trodden. “Born to Play” is a slow Blues burner that fans of the genre will relish, and also features a loving auto-biographical story of a close family and his musical influences. Chris plays so easily, as to make listeners wonder at his prowess on guitar.
“Found a Way to Make Me Say Goodbye” has Cain speaking truth to a rotten girl-friend and lousy situation, with a positive plan to move out and on. The closing tune, the breezy instrumental “Space Force” ends the potent album, which is filled with superb playing, marvelous songs, and all featuring a “new” kid on the block.
With only a few guest artists contributing to the mix, his touring band backs him up wonderfully on the recording. Solid drummer Sky Garcia, dynamic bassist Steve Evans and the engaging Greg Rahn on keyboards just shine on the recording. Outstanding percussionist Derrick “D’Mar” Martin contributes to several tracks and the omni-present brilliance of Greaseland Studio’s producer/musician Kid Andersen musical excellence is in force throughout. The four-piece horn section, led by arranger, sax-man Michael Peloquin increases the enjoyability of Cain’s music with a touch of jazz and provides a punch to the overall proceedings.
Recognized since his breakout in 1987 by a pantheon of industry professionals and guitar heroes living and passed as one of the most brilliant and vital figures making music of any kind, the stellar album displays in full this heart full of chops artist. It will make newcomers to his music opine, “why haven’t I known about this guy?” Well lucky listeners will know soon enough. We enthusiastically feel it’s one of the top releases of the year, as Chris Cain bursts out with his thrilling Blues bravado throughout “Raisin’ Cain.”