Broke Fuse and Friends – Why Should I Be Blue?
CD: 8 Songs, 28 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric and Acoustic Blues Rock, All Original Songs
“Don’t rob the world of your voice.” My mentor in a writers’ group on Facebook recently offered this piece of sage advice. If you have something to write, write it, and if you have music to play, play it. Everyone has something they want, even yearn, to express or their souls will shrivel. Jay Moonah, known as Broke Fuse, asks himself and the world, Why Should I Be Blue? Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Moonah has found a way to make his voice heard and provide hope to others. As he reveals on his latest album’s liner notes: “Somewhat ironically, the moment I found myself unable to collaborate in person with other musicians was exactly the time I found myself in need of help bringing my songs to life. Although most of these pieces were written before the 2020 health emergency, I find many have taken on new meaning for me during these trying times.” As a stalwart of the Canadian music scene for more than thirty years, he knows that circumstances change, but music – especially the blues – lasts forever.
The album itself features eight original songs combining electric and acoustic rock to modest but heartfelt effect. On the title track, Broke Fuse even strums ukulele, as he is a co-founder of the Scarborough Uke Jam. He used to be a one-man band, but on this CD, he has collaborated with several talented souls: Frank Baraczka on drums; Alex Matthew on lead guitar; Mike McKenna on lead guitar; Matthew Bartram on piano; Paul Butters on lead and rhythm guitar; Alex Cheung on violin and string arrangement; Steve McNie on cello; Sandra Bouza on female vocals; ZenSkylar on drum loop; Frank Horvat on piano, and Attila Baraczka on bass.
This CD’s biggest plus, besides its lack of covers, is its smooth instrumentation. Collaborations are like jigsaw puzzles: all the pieces have to fit, or the overall picture looks strange. Thankfully for Broke Fuse and Friends, they mesh very well, especially on the opener “Blow All the Blues Away” and the peppy swing-time instrumental “The Runner Duck.” The biggest minus is vocals. Conversation is indeed a dying art, but talk-singing only gets one so far in the blues business. The one song where it works is “Bluffer’s Blues,” which also boasts hard-hitting lyrics: “I’m scared and I can’t face it. I wrote but can’t erase it…And by my own admission, I’m stuck in this position, a student who keeps failing the test.” Who among us hasn’t felt like this at least once? Such relatable sentiments keep one listening, engaged with Moonah’s music.
Broke Fuse’s latest offering may not be perfect, but in dark times, we need all the help we can get and all the inspiration we can give.