old, new, borrowed, blues

Half Way Home (Half Way Home Records)
Half Way Home

By Hilary Braun

This is one of those CDs that reveals its contents before you listen to it. With song titles like "Queen Bee" and "Bottle of Blues," and photos of the long-haired artists walking pensively through rolling green fields, one might correctly deduce that Half Way Home rides the '70s revival rock 'n' roll bandwagon. While this debut disk is hardly as strong as the premier masterpieces of fellow neo-hippies Lenny Kravitz and The Black Crowes, this L.A. foursome should not be overlooked. The gritty, unpolished groove in every song made me wish I was hearing them live in a loud, smoke-filled bar with a bunch of friends instead of alone in my living room.

Lead vocalist Jennifer Barry is clearly the brightest star in the band. Her exceptional voice recalls Pat Benatar in quality and Janis Joplin in bluesy interpretation; the result is powerful and unique. Her picture on the insert reveals her youth, but she sings the blues like a seasoned performer years older. The rest of the band displays expert musicianship and is given to long stretches of jamming. All eight songs have that constant, loud, fuzzy bass groove so popular in the '70s; unfortunately, it's a little too dominant. It's a good thing Barry's voice is so strong. Still, this is a really good listen.

If you love the genre, you'll love this disk.