D.B. Rielly’s concocted remedy promises an instantaneous cure for many of the most
troublesome modern ailments: Love Potions and Snake Oil is a collection of slow southern
ballads and flashy country jigs boasting a zydeco flavor, with the front man’s accordion
leading the dances of a trio consisting of Hiromasa Suzuki (a name that hardly recalls the old
south, we admit) on the guitar, Rohin Khemani on percussion, and Bruce Gordon on bass.
A true diversity of names to accompany a music that recalls the vestiges of an Americana
style, lost amidst the thick vegetation of the Louisiana bayou and some forgotten old
Mississippi trail. D.B. Rielly comes with a vast repertoire of experience which saw him play
at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, at the Apollo Theatre and with, among others, BB King and
Chubby Checker (don’t we fondly recall the twist?). But it is only today, thanks to Love
Potions and Snake Oil, that he embarks on his own independent path, which has allowed
him to sport a prize at the prestigious 2009 International Songwriting Competition.
What counts, putting aside the glamorous honors, is a music that resounds with that oldtime flavor, very widespread and deeply rooted in the earth and in the spirit of old America, beginning with the upbeat dance One of These Days (You’re Gonna Realize) — a zydeco feel that evokes New Orleans (or what is left of it…), before taking a gentle turn and settling into the romantic tones of Don’t Give Up On Me — a ballad that looks to the Mexican border, and then D.B. Rielly takes a seat at the piano and plays the moving Save All Your Kisses. Love, girls, sentimentality, but nothing slapdash and cheesy: Love Potions and Snake Oil is simply a potion from another time and whoever still holds a tender heart will be able to appreciate the simplicity of these melodies, something that did not leave even Phil Ramone and Gary US Bonds indifferent, both of whom express enthusiastic comments about the artist whose past is deliberately ironic and mysterious.
D.B. Rielly plays with irony and a bit of this playfulness ends up in his music: from the accordion barnyard dance tune, I Got A Girlfriend, to the ramshackle boogie of Loving You Again (T. Rex visits the marshes of Louisiana?) to the devilish rockabilly of We’re All Going Straight To Hell. Meanwhile, the sensitive soul of the folksinger is never forgotten. The slow acoustic One Day at a Time and the all-consuming Love Me Today are, in fact, the little masterpieces of the disc, with a listless air worthy of John Prine and melodies that leave all else behind — a timid voice, a very sweet piano, a layer of accordion, a guitar arpeggio, and the result is the real deal.