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Fresh Horses
Black Hen Music (2004)

Fresh Horses Track Listing

  1. B's Blues
  2. Fresh Horses
  3. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  4. For The Turnstiles
  5. I Can't Be Satisfied
  6. The Embers
  7. 12 Questions
  8. Just A Pilgrim [mp3]
  9. I've Got Blood In My Eyes For You
  10. Postcard From Mexico
  11. Love Is Just A Gamble
  12. East Virginia

Album Notes

February 2004 saw the release of Jim's latest project, "Fresh Horses" on Black Hen Music. This new recording is the result of a musical meeting between Jim and Steve Dawson (of Zubot & Dawson). Jim and Steve realized they shared common tastes in music and realized that a collaboration between Jim and the Zubot and Dawson band would be a refreshing and exciting project.

In Jim's words, "Early bluesmen were really 'songsters' who interspersed their blues with spirituals, popular music, folk songs, anything to get the crowd to take note, and I suppose that's how I cast myself when I began my career. In the spring of 2003, Steve Dawson approached me about the possibility of a collaboration and I leapt at the opportunity to create a musical dialogue with the very finest players of a whole new generation; sort of fathers and sons, you know? It's been a long hard road and so 'Yahoo, thank the Lord', I thought, 'fresh horses'."

The goal of this project was to stay true to Jim's roots and influences, but to take the music in some new and innovative directions, while keeping the sounds of the acoustic instruments front and center.

The musicians holed up in a Vancouver recording studio for 3 days, and in that short time, "Fresh Horses" was born. They started with some of Jim's original material (The soulful "Just a Pilgrim" and "12 Questions"), and then chose some blues standards (Muddy Waters' churning "I Can't Be Satisfied"), brought in some songs not usually associated with blues singers (notably Neil Young's "For the Turnstiles" and Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"), threw in a couple of traditional country-blues tunes (The Mississippi Shieks' "I've Got Blood in My Eyes For You" and the haunting "East Virginia") and an instrumental of Steve's written for Jim ("Fresh Horses"). The result is an exciting recording of deep soul, blazing musicianship, and a youthful spirit that brings Jim's extraordinary talents to life.

What People Are Saying ...

Gruff, smoky, and soulful vocals greet the first-time listener of blues journeyman Jim Byrnes, a veteran of the genre who has been on that blues highway for the past 40 years. Backed by the multitalented instrumentalists Jesse Zubot and Steve Dawson, legendary Missouri musician Jim Byrnes creates a dozen swampy and freshly brewed blues numbers. Zubot's frenetic fiddle playing adds a unique element that is often missing from Byrnes's blues and Dawson's array of guitars — from the Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar to the lap steel and slide guitars — adds yet another layer. On Fresh Horses, Byrnes tackles a few of the greatest songwriters of both the blues and folk rock genre with success. Covering Muddy Waters' classic, "I Can't Be Satisfied," Byrnes gives a fine tribute to the late great blues legend. Byrnes also offers bluesy remakes of Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" and Neil Young's eerie "For the Turnstiles." The title track "Fresh Horses" is an intricate and original instrumental that waffles between a jazz song and a country blues; it clearly emotes this musical dialogue between the generations, which the album is all about.
- Exclaim.ca

"...A voice that is warm, mature and smoky ... Byrnes is finding his personal and musical centre ..."
- Vancouver Sun

"Jim Byrnes tears it up on this release. Fresh Horses is a blues on the edge. In your face blues with a rock feel best describes this album. Jim delivers it all with his raspy vocal performance. This is an album that has it all for the blues and rock fan." - 5 Stars.
- Roots Music Report (Texas)

I will put in a bid for this being the best album of the year. Byrnes hooks up with his friends in Vancouver's Zubot and Dawson to put together one of the tightest acoustic blues album I've heard in a long time."
- The Alt (National)

Smoldering intensity…deeply soulful…"
- British Blues Connection

"Expressive, dramatic vocals (and) encyclopedic knowledge of form…"
- Victoria Times Colonist

Album Credits

Jim Byrnes - vocals, guitars
Steve Dawson - Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar, mondotar, tremelo guitar, acoustic guitar, National tricone guitar, etc.
Jesse Zobot - fiddle
Chris Gestrin - organ, Wurlitzer, piano, radio
Andrew Downing - double bass
Elliot Polsky - drums, percussion
Jeanne Tolmie - background vocals (tracks 4, 6 and 9)
Candus Churchill, Marcus Moseley and Tom Pickett - background vocals (track 8)