With the advent of digital music distribution, albums just seem to be getting longer and longer all the time. Take Anthology by Joe Boris, for example. His release contains 30 songs and lasts two hours and 38 minutes. There are Hollywood movies that clock in with shorter lengths than that. Thus, just listening all the way through to this release is a project. One that requires you carve out enough time to finish it. However, if you give yourself enough time, it is more than worth the effort.
One aspect of it that you might notice right away is how much rock and blues are on it. The single “Set Me Free” is distinctly reggae, but that does not signal a reggae album. Instead, it’s more an exception to the rule. This is a large collection of songs from the New Jersey songwriter/musician, which has been re-edited and mastered by Jason Dermer. It mostly contains the kind of rock music you’d expect to find on the East Coast, which has – of course – given us the likes of Bruce Springsteen and his star sideman, Clarence Clemons.
The album kicks off with “Ain’t Easy,” which is a rollicking blues-rock track that finds Boris singing it in a gruff, bluesy voice. “Kick Away The Blues,” which follows, is more of an upbeat number, and one that also features plenty of funky organ and guitar. It has the feel of classic ‘60s soul music in some places. It finds Boris singing it with plenty of natural feel. You get the sense that playing and singing this kind of music is nearly second nature to him. He doesn’t ‘choose’ to perform in this style; rather, it just comes out of him as easily as normal conversation. Put simply, he speaks/sings the blues, the way some folks in various regions speak with an accent. This is his artistic accent, if you will.
There is plenty of mean guitar running throughout this album. Sure, there are rhythmic bass and drum parts, as well as organ/keyboards in places, but electric guitar is the primary sound heard throughout the recording. Some of the more notable songs on the album are “Set Me Free,” as well as “Shotgun Mamma,” which incorporates group vocals and a jazzy swing rhythm. These exceptions don’t sound out of place, but instead add variety to the overall presentation.
Most of us likely recoil at the prospect of listening to an especially long album, such as this one. It’s a little like reading a particularly long book. It just looks like a huge task. However, with music this enjoyable, it doesn’t feel like work at all. Joe Boris has a whole lot of music in him; more than a typical 10-15 track album can contain. Like a really good jazz or blues concert, Boris gets going well, and doesn’t seem to want to stop. You may not want him to stop, either. Especially when he throws in a steel-guitar colored inclusion, like “What You Find,” which adds just a touch of country music to the big collection of sounds. Anthology is no misnomer, and it’s also well worth investigating.