Tomás Doncker – Moanin’ At Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project Album Review

New York City soul icon Tomás Doncker with his Tomás Doncker Band have just released their newest album, Moanin’ At Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project. Tomás is the head of True Groove Records who recently signed a worldwide distribution deal with The Orchard. Because of his “global soul” mission and dedication to musical experimentation, he’s been on CNN and Guitar World as well as headlining NYC Summerstage and the Shanghai World Expo.

His latest release is an expanded full-length tribute to one of his idols, Howlin’ Wolf, whose website recently featured Tomás. Developed during a critically acclaimed run at NYC SummerStage during the summer of 2013, this project is now being shaped into a multimedia performance concert.

Doncker said about the release: “We had been bouncing the idea of a Blues record around for awhile. A hardcore modern Blues record. Every time we discussed it The Wolf came up. Willie Dixon came up. Smokestack Lightning, Spoonful, Evil – on and on…The stories – so vivid, even today. We wanted to be a part of that lineage, that history. We wanted to tell that “Same Ol’ Story” one more time…Our way. We felt the time was right”.

And tell it their way is exactly what they do. Evil sheds the heavy piano riff of the original and has been replaced by slick electric guitar. Killing Floor is made more solemn than Howlin’ Wolf’s. Howlin’ Wolf’s was jolly and upbeat with that typical rock ‘n’ roll Blues scale being heard predominantly throughout. Tomás Doncker’s version is darker and more dramatic.

Spoonful stays quite true to the original. It’s not so gentle but vocally and also musically, Tomás hasn’t drifted too far away on this track in comparison to some of the other tracks on the new record. Tomás’ Spoonful sounds like Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady to start with before that insane harmonica comes in.

I Ain’t Superstitious has been completely altered taking out a lot of those old, woe-be-me Blues and making it a much livelier number. The beginning of the track has keyboards reminiscent of The Doors. Tomás has given this track a faster tempo than the original, removing that sense of American soulful Blues slightly. It’s a good rendition though regardless of this alteration.

Tomás Doncker’s new record, Moanin’ At Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project, will be released tomorrow (8 July 2014).

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