Quintus McCormick – Put It On Me! (2011)

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Quintus McCormick doesn’t quibble with genre on this new project from Delmark Records. Instead, he sings with a remarkable facility, at once bright and sweet then hard and accusatory, sounding at times like some after-midnight deep bluesman and then like a spit-shined mainstream soulster — and moving, along the way, well outside of any neat modern-day pre-packaging.

Put It On Me! illustrates, definitively, that he can look, and this is such a rarity, both forward and back.

And so, we have McCormick singing with a bold sexuality that recalls the chitlin circuit stars of today, even as he shows a remarkable boldness around the darker timbres of this music — as on the desperately lovelorn “Change.” His fried-and-battered swingers (as on “Sadie”) are performed with the same musical faithfulness as his slow-simmering groovers (“Lady Blue”). And, just when you think things have gotten a bit too comfy, he’ll rip off a guitar solo of molten intensity.

McCormick is also unafraid, though this is just his second album, of bringing in bigger stars — and there are notable contributions here, giving Put In On Me yet another layer of complexity. Billy Branch, for instance, tears through three tracks, adding a sizzling harp to “You Just Using Me,” the album’s thumping opener; as well as the smoke-filled grinder “The Blues Has Been Good To Me” and “Don’t Know What To Do,” a growling lament after a night of overindulgence.

The Chicago Horns, meanwhile, provide a muscular underpinning to five other tracks on Put It On Me, starting with a silky come-on called “Talk Baby.” On the stomping “How Soon We Forget,” McCormick’s stinging guitar asides almost obscure their swaying contributions, but the group moves back into the fore on “Same Old Feeling” — even as John Chorney adds a sweetly romantic turn on the electric piano. The Horns then contribute a series of short, sharp shocks on the urbane ballad “Loveland,” and then a Stax-y groove to “Say Lover.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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