Jamie McLean: This Time Around

Just beneath Jamie McLean’s funky exterior is something altogether different. The guitarist, best known for his full-time gig with New Orleans’ funk bastions The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, is no one-trick pony, as evident on his first solo release, This Time Around. With a backing band that includes his brother, Carter (drums), Derek Layes (bass), John Solo (keys), Shelby Johnson (backing vocals), Ryan Zoidis (sax), Ravi Best (trumpet) and Gregorie Maret (harmonica), McLean’s 11-track collection boasts immense vigor, despite a host of generic touches.

This Time Around, at best, is a rock and roll album. It has all of the necessary elements: driving guitar, lock-step rhythm, and sparing horn accompaniment. McLean’s ability as a singer fits the tone, and his arrangements are catchy and polished. Yet, despite the energy played out in the guitarist’s execution, many of the compositions don’t progress beyond a processed and methodical feel. The chugging verse of “Woman Stay” looses steam during an overwrought chorus, and the roadhouse slide of “Holy Water” falters beneath sterile accompaniment. There are a few stellar songs, such as the delicate “Queen of Make Believe” and the organic “Innocence Lost,” but many others offer little more than a formatted, hook-laden chorus.

As a whole, this isn’t a loss, by any means. It’s clearly an avenue that begged to be explored by McLean and exposes an affinity for songwriting that is respectable for any sideman. No one would want the guitarist to simply emulate the sound of his day job, thought this album begs for McLean to give at least a cordial embrace to the funk while moonlighting.

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