By Brian Tucker
If we age gracefully as time goes by then local folk and blues artist Mojo Collins’. latest album Joyful Ride is a fine example of doing so, even as some songs reveal there’s still fire in his belly.
At 70 years old Collins has a hefty catalog of original music (twenty release) to his credit along with opening for legendary acts like Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, Muddy Waters and more.
Produced locally at Big Notes Productions by Bradford Thompson, Joyful Ride is a fun but often reflective affair, an album of songs about fallen soldiers, a life playing the blues, even the joys of sultry women. Its blues music done with a sun-setting-on-the-coast vibe – strutting, strolling, and smiling and with a voice that’s rich in character and easygoing soulfulness.
Upbeat or carefree, songs consistently have a lighthearted feel, specifically on a gem like “Blues Eyes Cry’n” that’s done with smoky ambiance and is an album highlight. Collins’ guitar playing is colorful song to song, whether gritty slide guitar on “Real Bonafide Mojo Boogie” or swirling guitar steeped in the 70s like on “Shake Dem Blues.”
And on “Buddy Boy,” where fuzzed slide guitar could be loud or bombastic, Collins keep things tamped down, like keeping a mean dog tight by his side. The music on “Foolish Heart” is boiling just under the surface of his singing. Warm and distinct, his voice is raspy but soulful, even as it belies his age.
Collins is a storyteller at heart (see “Half Fast Blues”) and has a lovely voice to match. That’s one aspect that makes Joyful Ride an album to easily cut across lines, rich enough to pull in fans of blues and roots music alike. Ultimately it’s the album’s atmosphere and low key swagger that brings together those styles along with a coastal casual living mindset.
Joyful Ride isn’t complicated to the ear and its substance just may help uncomplicate the heart.
The Rusty Nail will host an album release party on Friday, June 13th at 8 p.m.