Moreland & Arbuckle: Just A Dream


As a blues-based rock duo, Moreland & Arbuckle will always be compared to the White Stripes and the Black Keys, but that is not a fair comparison. The White Stripes used excessive fuzz to mask average musicianship while the Black Keys, until recently, used massive riffs to mask average songwriting. Moreland & Arbuckle, with a deeper and rootsier sound, doesn’t have either of those shortcomings.

On Just a Dream, the Kansas band’s fourth album and second on Telarc International, Moreland & Arbuckle serve up a southern sound thicker than Mississippi mud. Along with drummer Brad Horner, Aaron Moreland’s deep cigar box guitar riffing and Dustin Arbuckle’s vocals and harp deliver multilayered raunchy blues. Session musicians provide occasional lead guitar, bass and keys to flesh out the sound, keeping the album from getting too formulaic.

Moreland’s guitar tone is considerably heavier than most blues rockers. That fat bottom end combined with church organ gives the hard rocking “Purgatory” a menacing feel. When not belting out vocals with his uniquely expressive twang, Arbuckle shreds on the harmonica in a way that you would imagine creates sparks. Though the band deviates from its original formula – the southern strut of “Just a Dream” would fit nicely in the Black Crowes catalog and the slow ballad “Shadow Never Changes” lets the listener relax for a change – Moreland & Arbuckle are still at their best when playing heavy stomping blues riffs. For fans of that style, you can’t do much better than Just a Dream.

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