For years Tony Goulas was everyone’s favorite sideman; having served in the ranks of the Boogie Kings, G.G. Shinn, T.K. Hulin’s Smoke and Gregg Martinez’s Delta Kings. The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee notched a Grammy certification as a co-writer of “Zydeco Junkie” with Chubby Carrier, yet it’s only been recently that he’s been writing songs for himself. As the title of his predominantly original debut implies, it’s steeped in blues with each track exhibiting a slightly different hue within the idiom. Granted, he doesn’t possess the hurricane gust pipes of pal and still sometimes bossman Martinez, nonetheless Goulas can unleash enough emotion for a knockout performance, as he does on the jazz-tinged “Wrap Me Around Your Finger.” On “What’ll I do Now,” Goulas’ vocals and the soul ballad arrangement (that surprisingly features a steel guitar) continuously build energy to land a walloping punch towards the end.
While some tracks (“Couldn’t This Be Love”) feel like contenders for contemporary pop airplay, Goulas can also belt with a Delbert McClinton-raspy edge on the rowdier roadhouse numbers. But instead of hiring a guitarist as McClinton does, Goulas has the chops to torch it up (“Honey Bee”) until there’s nothing left. Elements of South Louisiana also creep in, a quasi-zydeco shuffle “Think About Me” and the rollicking “Angeline” that could sneak in as a Mardi Gras staple. Yet, “Stone Free” is undoubtedly the biggest surprise—a Hendrix cover slowed down and funked up with a James Brown beat. When it comes to Goulas’ music, eventually every color turns to blue.