CD Review – Omar and the Howlers “Too Much Is Not Enough”
With anybody else, releasing three albums in a year would be overkill. In addition, cutting more tracks on an artist he’s already covered in a previous tribute album, ‘07’s On The Jimmy Reed Highway, would also be too much exposure for many musicians. But with Omar, it just makes you want more.
Released on his own Big Guitar Music label October 16, this is a first rate offering, with the late Gary Primich playing masterful harp. Omar had covered some of Reed’s more familiar work including “Big Boss Man,” Brite Lites, Big City” on the ’07 release, but here he delves into some of Reed’s lesser known works. That doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. The cuts are all short, with no drawn-out improvisations, a just-the-facts-Mam approach, get it said and move on.
“Gotta Let You Go” shares the same melody line with “Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu” and “Scratch My Back,” featuring great wa- wa harp by Primich backed by Gary Clark Jr’s slinky slide with Omar’s vocals sounding like he’s been gargling with gravedirt.
Omar rises up out of the gravel pit several octaves higher than his usual Karl-from- Slingblade/Beefheart/Wolf vocal characterizations for “Honest I Do,“ and once again Primich’s plaintive harp work raises goosebumps with his fine interpretation.
“Take Out Some Insurance” has a little stiffer backbeat than the original. Omar’s back down in the quarry spitting out stone-dusted vocals, sounding so wracked with pain that you know he’s not kidding about croaking if his beloved takes a powder.
“I’m Gonna Ruin You” has Omar howling like things you don’t want to meet up with in the woods at night while Primich tries to blow all the reeds right outta the harp.
You won’t want to skip around. Every cut reaches out and grabs you by the throat. It’s a pleasure to listen to Omar interpreting this stuff. You can tell he’s not just a fan but a student who’s learned his lesson well.
By the time you get to “You Don’t Have To Go,” you really don’t want this to end. Everybody shines on this one; Clark turning in a slide demonstration that’ll have you baying at the moon, Primich’s harp floating wraith-like above the mix and Omar sliding up and down octaves interrogating his soon to be ex-squeeze about her disrespectin’ ways.
Feel free to lay some more on us any time you’re ready, Omar. There ain’t no such thing as too much of this.
By Grant Britt
Originally written for Blues Review