* NEW REVIEW for my debut album Don't Hold Back *

Aki Kumar | Don't Hold Back

Akarsha "Aki" Kumar is, just after a few short years, one of the most compelling, and busiest, musicians in California, and certainly on the Bay Area scene.

Whether that be backing up any number of live groups, recording with other artists in studio, hosting jams, or finding & performing the right material for his own burgeoning career, Kumar is a force on the blues world.

An absolute devotee of 50's Chicago mainstay, Little Walter Jacobs, Kumar is a dedicated student of the harmonica, and brilliant on it to boot.  His remarkable voice is strong, steady and always in service to the songs he's singing.

The title track of this terrific indy is one of the strongest on the recording, and that's saying a lot, as the whole CD just brims with musical riches. While writing or co-writing only three cuts on the 13-track, Kumar has more than chosen well the other songs on the album. But my, has he chosen well.

He also has the pleasure, and great fortune of recording here with some of the very best players in Northern California.  Recorded at soon-to-be famed Greaseland Studios in Campbell, CA, and produced by Kumar and the seemingly omnipresent Chris "Kid" Andersen (guitarist with Rick Estrin and the Nightcats and owner of Greaseland,) Kumar's first solo effort holds forth with an avalanche of attitude and pure blues power.

It's playful as well. Have you ever heard a blues solo on sitar?  Neither has Aki! Just listen to the delightful reading of the final track on the album, "Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh," done in a pure 60's R&B-style. (Great vocal backing by Ms. Lisa Leuschner Andersen on this one too!)

As good and accomplished as Kumar's vocals are, one of the standout tracks on the album is the guest spot delivery by Little Jonny Lawton in his own composition, "Freight Train." Kumar's harmonica also just lights up this sensational track.

This Eastern-Indian born, and now Bay Area native has made a lot of musical friends on the scene, and now you're about to become one soon.

Just a fine, fine effort, fully realized, and blues-wailing. Run, don't walk to get it.

Joseph Jordan
Vice President
The Golden Gate Blues Society

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