“Pass It On Down” featuring RMHF’s Joe Beard Reviewed on Rock & Blues Muse

Original posted here: https://www.rockandbluesmuse.com/2023/09/11/review-chris-beard-pass-it-on-down/

Review: Chris Beard ‘Pass It On Down’
By Martine Ehrenclou

Renowned for his musical pedigree, Chris Beard, the son of blues luminary Joe Beard, is poised to unveil his seventh studio album, Pass It On Down via Blues Heart Records on September 15th. This album not only channels the blues legacy that courses through his veins but also showcases Beard’s distinctive fusion of blues and modern R&B, often infused with infectious funk rhythms.

Pass It On Down boasts a formidable lineup, featuring Chris Beard’s soulful guitar work, impassioned vocals, and an exceptional rhythm section comprised of Brother Wilson on guitar, Marvin Parker on bass, Carlton Campbell on drums, and John Tucker and Jonathan Curry on keyboards. Notable guest appearances include Johnny Rawls, Mary Ellen Haden, Richard Rodolph, Kenny Neal and his band, and, of course, Chris’s father, Joe Beard. The album’s ten tracks were produced by Chris Beard and his talented ensemble.

Hailing from Rochester, NY, Chris Beard grew up under the mentorship of blues legends such as Buddy Guy and Matt “Guitar” Murphy. At the tender age of 15, he was already gracing stages with his father’s band. Reflecting on his upbringing, Beard notes, “As Joe Beard’s son, I grew up around some of the best bluesmen. The influence of Buddy has been major for me.”

In 1998, Beard released his debut album, Barwalkin‘, which earned him a nomination for the W.C. Handy award for “Best New Blues Artist.” The accolades and releases kept rolling in, solidifying his reputation as the “Prince of Blues.”

Pass It On Down kicks off with the infectious groove of “Let The Chips Fall.” The track features top-tier drumming, bass, percussion, and keys, serving as the perfect backdrop for Beard’s expressive vocals and fiery guitar riffs that evoke Buddy Guy. Beard’s innate sense of rhythm shines through, blending blues and R&B in a combustible mix, further accentuated by a horn section that packs a punch.

For a captivating display of Beard’s guitar prowess and heartfelt vocals, “One More Cry For Love” takes center stage. Here, Beard emerges as a natural storyteller and soulful crooner, not unlike Robert Cray. The song paints a poignant narrative of a woman facing adversity, including an abandoned child, and Beard’s delivery brims with authenticity and raw emotion. His guitar tone and phrasing pay homage to generations of blues greats.
“Pass It On Down” introduces Joe Beard on the organ-driven R&B track, as father and son trade verses in a moving and heartfelt exchange that underscores the importance of preserving the blues tradition.

The album’s funky R&B numbers, “When Love Comes Knocking” and “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling,” showcase Beard’s brilliance. These tracks groove so deeply that it’s impossible to stay seated; Beard’s guitar work is electrifying, while the horns and rhythm section reach the pinnacle of excellence.

A standout track, “Son I Never Knew,” sees Chris Beard lending his unique touch to a song previously recorded by Kenny Neal. He transforms it into a slow blues gem that showcases some of the most soulful vocals on the record. Beard’s guitar solo is a work of art, characterized by its unhurried pacing and emotional depth. The song is a heart-wrenching tale of lost love and the yearning to meet a long-lost son for the first time.

Closing out the album is “Bitter Baby,” is slow blues with an irresistible groove. Beard’s guitar work, marked by subtle hints of Buddy Guy, is innovative and meticulously executed, with careful attention to tone, feel, and phrasing. The jazzy piano arrangements on this track, as throughout the album, serve as a perfect complement to Beard and his band’s artistry.

Chris Beard’s standout tracks on Pass It On Down make every second of listening a worthwhile experience. His genuine talent and dedication to the blues shine through, reaffirming his position as a prominent figure in the contemporary blues landscape.