Accepted wisdom declares artists prepare throughout life for their debut and much less before the next, implying a drop in quality. Altered Five, the hip Milwaukee quintet, however, shatters the cliché. Formed in 2002, their debut, Bluesified (2008) contained classic rock covers and Gotta Earn It (2012) originals, now Cryin’ Mercy explodes with sensational blues-powered originals. The eleven love-struck tracks are produced by blues guru Tom Hambridge star Jeff Taylor (vocals), Jeff Schroedl (guitar), Mark Solveson (bass), Scott Schroedl (drums) and Raymond Tevich (keyboards).
The ferocious “Demon Woman” highlights Taylor growling while Schroedl burns with astounding fury. Taylor delivers a classic lament with impeccable phrasing as Tevich channels organist Jimmy Smith and Schroedl spins deliriously twisting lines on “I’m in Deep.” The guitar virtuoso opens and supports the silky R&B ballad “Find My Wings” with gorgeous chord melody as Taylor offers solace and hope for troubled minds. “Stay Outta My Business” struts as Taylor declares and Schroedl assents with quicksilver lines. Taylor rocks his cheating baby on the anthemic “Counterfeit Lover,” Showing versatility, Altered Five pops odiferous funk on “I Got You.”
A nasty guitar hook kicks “Who’s Your Lover.” The sensuous slow blues “Move House” contains the double-entendres while Schroedl proves his blues bona fides. The rocking “Here’s Your, What’s Your Hurry” is up next.
Cool funk and hot boogie on “Urgent Care” underscore startling lyrical imagery. Closing the set with inventive contemporary lyrics, the hard drive of “Back Button” surprises with the evocative “…Sometimes I need a back button to wiggle ‘round the mess I make” and the uniquely wry chorus “Reset, reset.”
Fueled by the deepest grooves this side of the MGs, devastating singer Taylor and emerging guitar hero Jeff Schroedl are taking Altered Five on an exceptional musical journey not to be missed. Get on board the “soul train” before it leaves the station. Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy.