Kai Strauss is a name which stands out as a big fish in the small pond of the the European Blues market. His name stands out for all the right reasons, too. Delivering high quality blues night after night and album after album is his trademark.
Kai was inspired to begin playing guitar in his early teens and he was drawn to the blues by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King and Buddy Guy while most of his friends were listening to „99 red balloons“.
In 1995, after years of honing his craft (or: after honing his craft for years) at jam sessions and countless local club nights, Strauss teamed up with Texas, USA born Memo Gonzalez. The Strauss/Gonzalez collaboration torched stages all over Europe and the US until 2010 when Kai struck out on his own. The move to be a solo artist in a crowded and highly competitive European market was loaded with risk. As a frontman he quickly established himself and has risen to the top as one of the premier names, along the way earning the respect of many of his American colleagues. Enough so that he has performed or toured with Jimmy Johnson, Mike Wheeler and three time Grammy nominee Lurrie Bell. The multiple German Blues Award Winner is joined on this album by Chicago native son and the current torch bearer of Chicago Blues: Alligator Records Artist Toronzo Cannon. And Kai definitely holds his own.
Strauss, now 52 years old, leads the current formation of his band the Electric Blues All-Stars on this, his 7th, album. Once again Strauss manages to weave his respect for blues traditions with elements of his own brand of funk and soul into an exciting contemporary blues sound.
Kai’s songwriting itself has continued to develop and taken on a more serious urgency. He tackles some serious themes here including the song “Bad Loser” which can be interpreted as a sideways jab at the perpetrator of the current state of post truth US politics. “Stand Strong Together” head on confronts the need for community solidarity over the last two years of Covid pandemic and international conflicts. The echoes of many of the great classic electric Blues artists are present; Albert Collins casts a long shadow on “Icebound” and on the cover of “Hard Bargain”, the signature of Albert King is there. While Kai has clearly learned the nouns, verbs, and grammar structure from the Blues masters of old, his guitar work is by no means „paint by number blues“. Deeply rooted and developed within the tradition, yet delivered with a voice singularly his own, Kai’s lead lines are melodious and polished, and delivered with a pace that shows an individual mature soul. Strauss is backed up by a tight grooving international group of musicians feat. creative keyboard work by Londoner Paul Jobson and special guest appearances by US blues saxophone genius Sax Gordon and German guitar „Meister“Ali Neander. Throughout this album Kai’s smokey voice and sweet edgy guitar tone quietly seduce the listener. Take your time while enjoying this album and all it has to offer.
1 – Stand Strong Together
2 – The Future and the Past
3 – I Done Got Over You
4 – Bottom Of The Barrel
5 – Storming In Chicago
6 – Bad Loser
7 – Ride With Me
8 – Icebound
9 – You Sure Drive a Hard Bargain
10 – It Ain’t Where You Been
11 – Night Shift Blues