In many ways, Pleasantside Blues lives up to its title.
Certainly, it’s blues, but it isn’t a heavy statement of blues purity, or overwrought, or has something to prove. There is no agenda, no campaign. It is, uh, pleasant.
Which is not to damn it with faint praise, but more to say it’s a return to the roots of Rocky Millino Jr.
In all his recordings. there has been a streak of black – call it urban, rhythm and blues, soul, funk pop. Call it Prince , if necessary,. but the influence always been there though sometimes not obviously. Add a huge helping of contemporary rock and a little humour and you get the drift of what he is searching for, always getting closer but never there.
Therefore Pleasantside Blues is Rocky and his band, C4D (Cause 4 Drama) calling off the search and doing what seems to come naturally.
Not authentic but close enough. The album opens with an Elmore James riff recalling Dust My Blues (Broom) before a light, soulful vocal as plaintive as Little Willie John’s. Slide guitar, washes of keyboard, a touch of harmonica and a big, bold sound.
Summarize, the first song and aptly titled, sets up a brief seven song album that effortlessly draws you in. The album touches the right bases without sounding hackneyed or cliched. That is part of its charm.
At the end, Everytime and Since You Been Gone, C4D moves into R&B, the former sounding more like soul men, Sam And Dave, the youthful Jackson Five or a happy Taj Mahal, that kind of uptempo, feel good pop-soul. The latter a convincing ballad. These last entries open doors. if the band doesn’t want to be labelled or painted into a corner.
However, if Rocky Millino Jr. does want to continue as a born again bluesman, and feels right about this record, his search is over.