Driven by a sizzling lead guitar that brings to mind shades of Hendrix and SRV, the gentle blues strut of “I Wonder Who” is indeed one of the mightier elements to behold on The Wildcat O’Halloran Band’s Deck of Cards LP, but make no mistake about it – this track is really just a small sampling of the vibrant musicality that the group of players behind its creation or bringing with them into this latest offering. The Wildcat O’Halloran Band pull out the big guns to construct a fiery blues-rocking firestorm in songs like Deck of Cards’ “If Ifs Were 5ths,” “Blues Energy” and “Crunch Time,” but no matter where you look in this album, you’re almost bound to find something bluesy to seduce you on the spot.

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There’s a lot of physicality to the beats in “They Told Me,” “Got Love If You Want” and “Tell Papa,” and personally, I think they’re what make these three songs as infectious as they undisputedly are. Right from the get-go, the percussive pulse is contributing to the narrative behind these tracks, and although led by a flamboyant guitar attack around every corner, there’s scarcely a moment where any of the material on this LP feels sonically one-dimensional by any measurement.

The first time that I sat down with Deck of Cards, I immediately recognized “But,” the title track, “Crunch Time” and the acoustic “Cost of Living” as having been made for the stage, as they definitely showcase the presence of this group’s chemistry better than anything else I’ve heard them record has. There’s so much potential for all these compositions with regards to stage adaptation, and as I see it, the buzz surrounding this latest record from The Wildcat O’Halloran Band is likely going to trigger demands for a nationwide tour a lot sooner than later.

From start to finish, there aren’t many moments in this album’s tracklist that I would deem unfit for radio airplay, but there’s also no denying the rough edges that were seemingly left in this master mix intentionally. There’s a not so subtle grittiness to songs like “I Wonder Who” and “Got Love If You Want” that absolutely has an effect on how we interpret their themes and melodic stylization, but in the grander scheme of things, I actually like the fact that they’re being presented to us free of the additional cosmetic varnishes that many artists would liberally lean on when producing new material.

If you like blues, rock or just old school swing at its purist, you really can’t go wrong with what The Wildcat O’Halloran Band have created for us in the all-new LP Deck of Cards, which is currently out everywhere quality independent music is sold and streamed. It’s a must-listen for riff aficionados and those who live and die by a sensuous groove, but more than anyone else, I think that this group’s hardcore fans are going to be the most impressed with its black and white grandeur, and overall, what it says about where the band is going.

Nicole Killian

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