Johnny Sansone: Once It Gets Started (ShortStack Records)

Johnny Sansone, Once It Gets Started, album cover

He has crept up on us slowly but surely, and now Johnny Sansone has become one of the best bluesmen/roots musicians on the scene. His last few records have been excellent, but this one combines the laid back sound of Poorman’s Paradise and the in-your-face agression of The Lord Is Waiting and the Devil Is Too. It starts off with the edgy, intense bombast of the title track with the consistent hard hitting drums of Stanton Moore giving a base to Sansone’s distorted and loud harp with Maggie Koerner wailing like a demon behind him. The record does a great job of balancing these hard-hitting blues that anyone from Chicago to Memphis would be overjoyed to do with some more contemplative songs such as the salute to New Orleans “In My Dream” and the lament for a certain bakery on Dauphine called “The Night the Pie Factory Burned Down.” (It’s about time someone wrote a song about that. Now if someone could just write one about reopening Cafe Brasil.) But just when it might seem that Sansone is mellowing out with those songs, he follows them up with the mysterious vibe of “Sang With the Gypsy” and busting out the vicious stomp of “Ranton with Stanton.” Most blues these days sounds lacks edge and angst. Many records sound like they are simply going through the motions and singing blues because they want to. Johnny Sansone sounds like he plays music because he has to, and he’s got to get whatever is inside him out or else. And that’s what elevates Once It Gets Started over 99% of the records coming out now.