Jimmy & The Sleepers
CD review: C'EST LA VIE
By: Dan Brisebois

With the debut EP from Jimmy & The Sleepers, Edmonton has once again risen as one of Canada's hottest markets for the blues. The five tracks on C'EST LA VIE run the gamut of traditional Chicago style blues - brushed off, cleaned up, and polished.

Just after the album's release in 2012, they travelled to Memphis for an international festival, took on the challenges of some of the top blues groups the world had to offer, and not only placed higher than any other Canadian band in the competition, but almost came out on top. They've also been nominated for a pair of honours at the 2013 Edmonton Music Awards.

Normally known as a heavy metal specialist, Alex Varughese, ex of Sugakane and Vela and also currently in Kingdoom, fronts the band. And maybe surprising to some who know him only through those bands, knocks it out of the park with his vocal range. He doesn't just seem at home in a blues environment, he excels at it! The band's rounded out by seasoned veterans who know their chops - guitarist Jimmy Guiboche, Chris Brzezicki on stand-up bass, David "Crawdaddy" Cantera on harmonica, and drummer Grant Stovel.

Recorded live off the floor at The Twilight Living Room, the vibe is crisp and the production is clean, with Brezezicki and Stovel providing a strong backbeat. All the songs are originals, and from the opening notes of the lead-off, "Devil In Me," Cantera's harmonica often takes centre stage, trading turns in the spotlight with Guiboche throughout this evenly-paced collection of gems. The revved up boogie in "It's Alright Now" sets a torrid pace, while "Pretty But Gritty" and "Playing Games have a grungy, down and dirty feel to them.

This album is the perfect recipe for anyone with a craving for rock solid traditional blues. The only problem I have with C'EST LA VIE - it's only five tracks. But it's enough to wet your appetite, and teasing your taste buds, you're going to want to come back for seconds - by then you'll be addicted.


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