For Blues Music Magazine
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, by way of Salt Lake City, rising young blues and soul star-in-the-making Tony Holiday has just released his second effort, “Soul Service” right on the heels of his unique 2019 debut, Vizztone Record’s “Porch Sessions.”
Holiday’s a mature vocalist and a killer harmonica player, a one-two punch amply proven within the eight scintillating tracks laid down. He’s been lauded by some of the genre’s foremost players, Estrin, Corritore, and Musselwhite among them, and most anyone who’s really listened to his talented chops. Playing between 150-200 gigs annually will only hone one’s abilities toward the better. And better it’s proven to be.
The album was excellently produced by up and still coming whiz kid, Ori Naftaly (Southern Avenue,) who also plays guitar on this sparkling effort. Adding to the mix is the wonderful Victor Wainwright who guests on keys. It’s kind of a throwback CD to a blues and soul sound thankfully devoid of heavy-paced histrionics. It was written, all save one, by a gang of four, Holiday, Naftaly, Max Kaplan and the superb John Nemeth (a major influence on the record,) with lead guitar duties held down by Landon Stone and Naftaly.
The first track on this overall fine recording is the aptly titled, “Paying Rent on a Broken Home” and with its rolling pace and tough tones, it’s the perfect lead-in to all that comes. And straight out of the 50s, with its balladic structure and heart-breaking lyrics, “It’s Gonna Take Some Time” is a slow-dance teardrop of a tune. The leisurely paced JB Lenior-penned “Good Advice” knows just where it’s going, with even a nod to a wise grandma. Country-esque “Day Dates” gives Holiday & Nemeth the opportunity to flex their song-writing abilities by bringing in lyrics that’ll strike a resonant chord with anyone on the verge of losing his/her woman. Containing an undertone of danger, courtesy of some wicked minor keys and bassist’s Kaplan’s menacing bottom, “The Hustle” is an album stand-out. The harmony vocals throughout the album by Kaplan are just right and they blend well with Holiday’s leads.
A drawback to the CD, and it’s a quibble, is that it’s only 30-minutes in length. Fans old and new to Holiday will crave more, but no doubt this young man will be making more special music for years to come. All the way from Memphis indeed.