Chicago’s vocal/guitar man JD Simo fronted the Nashville Rock/Blues band Simo, formed with bassist Frank Swart and drummer Adam Abrashoff back in 2010, through to their last album in late 2017. The beginning of 2018 brought JD’s first solo album, ‘Off At 11’, taking drummer Adam Abrashoff with him, understandably so, because he’s a drummer’s drummer, and also a co-songwriter. Having seen Simo twice in the UK, once at London’s now defunct Borderline venue, and their rebel rousing performance at Ramblin’ Man Fair 2016 - a certain cover version over-shadowed their own material, namely The Beatles, ‘With A Little Help from My Friends’, done in true Joe Cocker style, that became their stand-out track.
'JD Simo', the self-titled solo album, released this August, has four cover versions out of the ten songs recorded, but it’s actually the self-penned tracks that stand-out most. Notably the first two tracks, opening with ‘The Movement’, that delicately spills in a Psychedelic space, where JD adopts falsetto vocal phasing through to a Hendrix guitar driven out-play, followed by the Funky and punchy ‘Love’, which rocks up next with its stand-out Poppy chorus line. The first of the cover versions is James Brown’s ‘Out of Sight’, given a heavier Funk-Blues makeover from the original, while ‘Higher Plane’ bring out JD’s riff laden back catalogue, complimented by Adam’s pounding drum beats and his fellow rhythm partner, Andraleia Buch, solid on bass guitar.
In complete contrast to the pattern of the album so far, ‘One of Those Days’ drops next, all soulful, Smoky Robinson style, with its falsetto laden vocal and the softer chorus sounding guitar. ‘Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic’, the Issac Hayes number, steps heavy through the Everglades, gliding into the Psychedelic guitar euphoria of the 70’s, then a further change of genre hits up, with ‘Take That’, a kind of Rockabilly Country instrumental catching the train back to town. Another cover version in the form of Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Soul of a Man’ is given a modern twist, while ‘Help’ comes with layered guitar and vocals in an experimental reverb ambience. Closing out, with a return to the Blues, is the down-tempo whisky swagger of ‘Anna Lee’, which has that Jimmy Page feel about it. When comparing the original Simo line-up material, with JD's latest solo offering, it's clear that the new album is all about crossing genres, experimenting with the production and by mixing textures. That has well and truly been achieved! Indeed, “It’s a bridge between R&B and Psychedelic Rock,” as states JD.