We’re introduced to the album with instrumental high-energy blues rock track, Dirty Nails and boy, is it dirty. In contrast, One a Ponce a Time follows with funky beats and bass, beautifully accompanied with some sweet harmonizing contributed by Craig McNair, Ben Rollo, and Darryl Romphf. The only way to really describe the following track Welfare Mama is to paint a picture; imagine if someone took the best parts of The Zombies, Chilliwack, and Santana, and mixed it all together. Add Danica Guenette, Wendy Tozer & Emily Barkley of The Divines and a little Scott Galloway for good measure. Serve hot. You’re welcome.
Already, we’ve been taken to some interesting and scenic stops in John McKinley’s journey. The classic staples of progressive rock and funk can only lead to better things. Case and point: Stratitude. It’s a rollercoaster all on its own. Out come the fangs with hard, distorted, wailing guitar only to wind down to some dirty, psychedelic blues, reminiscent of The Raconteurs’ Blue Veins. Don’t get too comfortable, though. Slowly, we build back up and Stratitude finishes as it started, leaving the listener wanting for nothing.
One of the album’s teaser releases, Cuando Yo Me Voy (I'm Outta Here) is already a fan favourite, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. The band, with vocal contributions by Craig McNair, Ben Rollo, and Darryl Romphf, and percussion by Danny Castro, captures the spirit of chicano rock, adding an important layer to what makes the John McKinley Band a force to be reckoned with. In contrast, Rev It Up is a fresh take on some classic alternative rock. Be careful when rocking out in the car, though. You may be risking an inadvertent speeding ticket.
Lovers of seventies and eighties classic blues rock à la Joe Walsh and Stevie Ray Vaughan won’t want to overlook the album’s seventh track, Keep the Door Cracked Open. Upbeat, melodic, and damn catchy! Speaking of influences from the seventies and eighties, P-Nutt-Butt-Ah is a must-hear with its lazy, taunting, Zeppelinesque dirty blues riffs with the rich, tortured passion of Albert Collins.
Speaking of tortured passion, sometimes it can be expressed so simply...and it was! Life’s a Bitch, another teaser release, is a story enveloped in some simple, fun, high-energy blues rock. Cool Night Breeze is fun on the opposite side of the spectrum. It’s a folky walk in the park including vocals from The Divines which will inspire music-lovers everywhere to hit the Repeat button.
Window on the World is a journey of passion and is paid homage by unlikely pop track, Passionate Man. If one song from this album is going to make it to mainstream radio, I predict this will be the one.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s one track which I can only describe as Classic Canada. Ontarian Song is probably the most Canadian piece of music this music lover has ever heard. Complete with Melissa Berry on violin, it’s an expedition and intentional or not, a fitting and authentic grand finalé to Window on the World.