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4 stars

Love Potions and Snake Oil is the debut album by American DB Rielly. And what a debut! In summary you could say: what you see is what you get and what you see first is that the CD comes in a metal cigar box. Although I've seen this before in a Steely Dan outtakes album, it is indeed a special and original packaging. And that is 'what you get': a unique and original brew of zydeco, blues and country. Yes, the term 'roots' fits perfectly with the music of DB Rielly.

On this album, he not only does the singing but also plays the guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, mandolin and percussion. Oh and before we forget, he produced the album himself. He's a musical centipede.

Love Potions and Snake Oil has a very good mix of speed/genre, so it never gets boring. Well, apart from the fact that every time the album ends, you press 'play' again. In other words, just put it on 'repeat.' This music keeps growing on you.

The songs at a glance:

The album starts with One Of These Days (You're Gonna Realize) — a more than excellent track to open with. After ten seconds of drums, the sound of the accordion enters — a sound that is often heard on this disc, like on the next song, Don't Give Up On Me, a Dutch-language version of which would become a popular tear-jerker because of that accordion. The way DB delivers it makes this a beautiful country song.

Yet more beautiful is the ballad Save All Your Kisses. Although you hear the accordion again and now a mandolin, this is really a piano song. The combination of that instrument, the beautiful (sometimes slightly nasal) voice of Rielly and the love lyric makes this song absolutely beautiful. After the ballad, DB goes directly to an upbeat number, I Got A Girlfriend, both musically and lyrically happy, singing...

I got a girlfriend
And she belongs to me
I got a girlfriend
My folks said "finally."

This song fits back in the zydeco category. It's very cool to hear how the guitar suddenly breaks out of that sound and into a delicious country solo. And let's not forget the bass line (Bruce Gordon), which makes an important contribution to how fun this number is.

From zydeco, the music now moves to country. This is done with Loving You Again, a number that in terms of music and lyrics is reminiscent of Achy Breaky Heart — except that this sounds good! DB continues with another ballad, the beautiful One Day At A Time. This number starts modestly, evolving into some beautiful singing in the chorus. This song is required-listening for fans of The Eagles.

For those missing the Blues, don't worry. Changed My Mind, with the beautiful sound of the National (resonator) guitar and the harmonica, is exactly that. Got A Mind is another more traditional country, partly because of that mighty fine sound of the banjo (an instrument that has made a surprisingly major contribution to the beauty of music lately). If you have a good voice and can play that instrument, you don't need anything more, as is proved here.

As he does in I Got A Girlfriend, Rielly shows in We're All Going Straight To Hell that he can write lyrics with a good sense of humor. Musically, the song begins like Mystery Train (Elvis Presley) and very quickly goes into a perfect blend between country and zydeco. Love Potions and Snake Oil ends with another beautiful ballad: Love Me Today. Not a big bang, but a melancholy end, leaving you favorably impressed.

There's a good chance that DB Rielly will perform in the Netherlands in late 2011. Keep an eye on him! Until then, Roots fans will certainly enjoy Love Potions and Snake Oil: ten songs from up-tempo to ballad, laughter to melancholy — all done beautifully. The album is not in stores yet. For that, you need to go to dbrielly.com or cdbaby.com.

If you have any doubts, here's a YouTube video. And beyond that, the CD even comes with a guarantee. Says Rielly, “I personally guarantee that if these here concocted remedies fail to eliminate all the trouble & woe that befall man or beast, I’ll eat a bug.” WIM is not concerned though, this album has succeeded in it's claim. More than succeeded!


Norbert Tebarts, Written In Music

Translated from Dutch. Click here to go to the original article.