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Jon Cleary

Label: FHQ Records

Release Date: April 17, 2012

Review Date: April 15, 2012



If you’re a fan of folks like B.B. King, Eric Burdon, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Ryan Adams then you’re probably aware of the work of New Orleans born singer, songwriter, R&B and funk musician, Jon Cleary.  Though noted for his own compositions – many of which were recorded on five previous solo albums, Cleary’s sixth album, Occapella, is – as he put it on the back of the album – just him “having fun with the songs of Allen Toussaint.  


As a kid, Cleary was turned on to the work of Toussaint while he was growing up in England. He became a fan of his when he realized that three of his favorite songs – LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade, Robert Palmer’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, and Frankie Miller’s Brickyard Blues – were all written by Toussaint. 


With scant few exceptions Cleary plays all of the instruments on Occapella.  One of those exceptions is on the opening tune, Let’s Get Low Down, where he’s helped out on vocals with Bonnie Raitt and Dr. John who also plays guitar on the cut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slapped the repeat button on this song – it’s that good and is, obviously, a Boomerocity favorite. 


Another Boomerocity favorite is Cleary’s treatment of the hit made popular by Glen Campbell, Southern Nights. When I first heard this version of it, I was driving in my car and, while at a stop light, I was like, “Hey, wait a minute!  I know that song!”  Cleary’s interpretation of this classic is phenomenal and, yes, earned repeated slaps of the repeat button. 


Third and fourth favorites are the uber-smooth What Do You Want the Girl To Do and When the Party’s Over.   Simple yet intricate with its rich tones and hues, these songs – along with the other ten songs – make this album immensely enjoyable to listen to – repeatedly. 




Written by Randy Patterson
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