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Just a Dream

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Album Review

A decade into their partnership, roots/blues rockers Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle have logged tens of thousands of road miles and released a handful of well-received albums, but for the first time, they have put extra effort and hours in at the studio perfecting a set of songs. The work has paid off. Their previous releases adequately captured the duo's live vocal-harp-guitar swamp rock fireworks, but this one is crafted with more care and attention to details that enhance the raw power that remains at the heart of their approach. Chris Wiser lays down swirling organ on four tracks, adding to the intensity of tunes such as "Purgatory" and the thunderous "Troll" that already charge ahead with locomotive force. Guitarist/producer Moreland keeps the sound basic, yet bolsters it with occasional overdubs and background vocals. When the twosome connect with overdriven hard and distorted guitar on the thundering riff of "Travel Every Mile," the effect emerging out of large speakers or even ear-buds feels like a swaggering, stomping elephant. Tom Waits' "Heart Attack and Vine," a longtime concert favorite, gets the Moreland & Arbuckle treatment, which means the basic guitar lick is amplified and the sleaze aspect, already substantial with Waits' decadent, urban lyrics, is emphasized with music that matches the seedy concepts. Harpist/singer Arbuckle has become a powerful, expressive performer and even lays his harp down for a handful of selections to concentrate on vocals. The stream of consciousness, somewhat rambling, spoken word dialog of "Gypsy Violin" is the album's most adventurous, even experimental moment. The backwards tapes and dialog lend a psychedelic edge that, while it doesn't entirely connect, shows the twosome are willing to explore outside of their typical boundaries, challenging themselves and their audience. Booker T and the MG's guitarist Steve Cropper appears to add a solo to his "White Lightnin'," shifting to twangy soul, also a bit of a departure from the blues-rock at the heart of the disc. Songs like the grinding "So Low" chug and stomp to a slower, more humid beat with Moreland's grimy guitar taking center stage. They return to their Chicago roots with a cover of the Howlin' Wolf approved "Who Will Be Next," a pile-driving performance and showcase for Arbuckle's Little Walter-styled amplified harmonica. Throughout the disc, Moreland & Arbuckle shift and morph their trademarked attack just enough to keep the music contemporary yet drenched in the deep well of inspiration they get from their predecessors in the blues genre.

Customer Reviews

Must Own!

Nothing ends a day like downloading this album and listening to it. Brings me back to the being at the epic Waterfront Blues Festival of 2010. Uh. Better turn it down. Someone's knockin' at my front door! Guys, Come back to Portland, Oregon soon! I will be at that concert. -Dr. Zoot

Like Real Blues?

These guys are the real deal..must have!!!!

Bring IT!!!

Saw M&A in Southern Cali with Buddy Guy. The boys blew the roof off!! Great album. Keep up the good work.....


Formed: 2001 in Wichita, KS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Guitarist Aaron Moreland and harpist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle have fashioned an old/new 21st century roots sound by merging several American musical strains, from blues, folk, and country to rock and soul, and when at their best, they do it all with a raw and energetic passion. Moreland and Arbuckle met at an open-mike session at a club in Wichita, Kansas in 2001, and since both were exploring country blues, they began playing together, starting a quartet called the Kingsnakes. Personnel came and...
Full Bio
Just a Dream, Moreland & Arbuckle
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Customer Ratings