The guitar, along with the vocals is one of the greatest instruments ever created. Please drummers or bass players get offended – but except perhaps for the piano and obviously the vocals, a great use of this usually 6 strings power machine can easily mean world domination… or something close to that. Perhaps that’s why guitarists tends to shine out the most on every band or even an entire record for that matter, at least, of course the group or artist chooses to go for a more avant-garde approach.
Downtown by Joe Olnick Band is one of those very few proper album title. It’s kind of obvious once you listen to the record, yet it makes all the sense of the world and does fit the music featured on the material. The title track opens this fully instrumental album in a very groovy way as the band jams throughout the song, it isn’t quite pretentious but there’s a sense of sassiness that fills the track. “Philadelphia Moonlight Part 1” captures the essence of the Brotherly Love state, at least how it has mostly present us through TV and Movies. It’s shiny, yet it never feels as a bundle of joy. “Food Truck” is a bit loungy, you can hear it both at a club or a waiting room. Overall, it does capture the vibe of what we normally think when it comes to the Downtown.
On a negative note, while the music is very good and you can really sit through and listen and have a good time. Just like you would any other instrumental record, maybe live I could see each member having a blast and just bringing their own skills into the stage. However, aside from that, the album never transcends. Most likely the intention for Joe was just to make a great album for people to delight themselves with, if that was the idea then he definitely made it; but if he wanted to blow any minds and have people just going crazy, unfortunately this record doesn’t reach those levels. You never get the same feel you will, say, listening a John Butler Trio album. Again, there’s a big chance this wasn’t the idea at all. Not encouraging him to mimic anyone, but if he could bring some of that power and taking some risks in the future, he might reach a bigger audience.
Criteria - 75%
In the end, this is a great record that recounts many decades and artists, from Miles Davis to Pink Floyd, though it never reach the highs of those acts. If you are a big fan of jam music, this is a very recommend album for you. For the rest, we might just have to wait.