Fraser/Daley have an understanding of the music they play that rivals that of the originators, and their own compositions can look the classics in the eye knowing they are as good as what has gone before. - Bob Segarini
**** (bold new direction for Canadian veterans)
And now for a completely different kettle of fish for two men whose lives were forever changed by playing for both sides of the late, great Jeff Healey’s creative brain. Alec recorded and toured with the Jeff Healey Band while Mike was co-guitarist with Jeff in his Jazz Wizards, his beloved side project on a more subtle scale. Alec Fraser is a multi-award-winning bassist, a renowned sound engineer and producer for some of Canada’s best blues and roots acts. Mike Daley is a highly-schooled practitioner and guitar-for-hire who’s run the gamut from rock to jazz but shares a love, as does Fraser, for the country blues of the 1920s and 1930s and the history of roots music in general – and it shows.
What’s remarkable about this release, beyond the career detour, is the perfect fit of their two personalities, their abilities, their musical presence and the heart and soul they’ve injected this music with – originals and covers alike. Leading the charge with a jaunty version of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Bad Luck Blues”, the real surprise comes in the originals. Fraser’s “Lemonade Stand”, on which he sings lead, sounds as authentic as their love for this music, delivered with a sense of fun and infectious spunk. The upgraded edge on Daley’s “140 on the 401” speaks to the variety they weave beyond anyone’s traditional definition of country blues – one can almost conjure the Everlys on this exceptional outing. Liberal doses of slide (“The Relentless Gambler”), fast pickin’ (“She’s No Good”) and vocal harmonies (“Welcome Table“) sounding so sweet these two could be siblings pervade this disc. Old-tyme country is honoured with “Sugar Baby” as Fraser’s husky vocal enjoys the company of Daley’s upbeat banjo and backup vocal. They duo shine brightest on slower blues numbers like ”Put It In Writing” as the warm, percussive tones of Fraser’s signature, acoustic bass marry to Daley’s strong, soulful vocal and one of the best guitar solos on the album. At the same time, there are country-leaning cuts like the borderline rockabilly of “Turn This Rig Around” and “Blues All Around Me”, bursting with a life all their own.
Rarely has such spontaneity repaid the risk with music this solid and well-executed, owing to Fraser’s infamous engineering skills and the sheer musicality of both experienced players. A love for the past with one foot clearly celebrating the present moves the category forward. This spirited release shakes the dust from the rafters as it injects the category with much-needed zest. The audible camaraderie is the secret to the success of this debut, together with a sincere love for what they’re doing. Worth finding to reinvigorate your collection, alone. – Eric Thom
-Eric Thom, Maverick (UK)
Superb roots music duo immersed in the blues of pre-war legends like Big Bill Broonzy and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Fraser plays the upright bass so well, he needs no percussionist. And Daley is a magician on guitar.
-The Hamilton Spectator, Jan. 6, 2011
The beauty of this album lies in their success at incorporating that Old Time feel with contemporary subject matter and in blending these new songs with some fine country blues performances. Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Bad Luck Blues” opens the program with a duet vocal & Daley on electric. On listening you realize how many other songs sprang from this one 78. This one’s also a lot easier to listen to. “(Driving) 140 on the 401” is the first of several fine trucking songs. Fraser’s “The Relentless Gambler” features some fine dobro from Daley - the gambler is unrepentant, of course. Jesse Fuller’s She’s No Good” gets a rousing treatment as does Charley Jordan’s “Keep It Clean”. The enjoyment these two get out of playing together shines through here. Daley’s “Put It In Writing” is a masterpiece, the singer being a bitter, unemployed fisherman dealing with a bureaucrat who thinks money can replace a livelihood. “Turn This Rig Around” channels Johnny Cash in a tale of a truck driving man with a wife who has a drinking problem. “My Girl Sadie” is one of a couple that adds some humour to what may seem to be a rather dour set list. We go rocking out with “Homesick Daddy”. It’s a good example of Fraser’s ‘brushbass’ technique, which allows him to play bass & drums at the same time.
-John Valentyn, The Maple Blues Newsletter, January 2011
If you mixed Hank Williams, Fred Eaglesmith, and Charlie Angus into a stew and simmered it you would probably have a version of Fraser/Daley. The duo’s debut CD is countrified blues. Heck, you may find yourself singing along to tracks like "140 on the 401," the ultra hip song "Blues All Around Me" and even "The Relentless Gambler," which sounds like The Delmore Brothers via Johnny Cash. Musically the sound is Fraser playing brush bass, and Daley playing both acoustic/electric rhythm/solo styles of guitar with both guys singing. Bottom line is it works like a charm at plenty of points on the CD. Their version of "Bad Luck Blues" is totally organic and a good indication of their sound. On the other hand there is no doubt some fans may enjoy the bluesier tracks to the acoustic country of "Turn This Rig Around," Jesse Fuller’s "She’s No Good" complete with kazoo solo or even the “steer holler” of "Lemonade Stand." A cool side project by very experienced players.
John Emms Music Reviews
Former Hamiltonian Mike Daley (Uncle Violet), and Alec Fraser (Jeff Healey, Jack deKeyzer, Mel Brown) have teamed up as Fraser/Daley to create a superb self-titled CD of high energy folk blues. The duo works extremely well together. Both have distinctive vocals that mesh perfectly when they harmonize. Daley is a talented guitarist and Alec is rightfully renowned for his bass playing. You'll definitely be tapping your toes and clapping your hands to these great examples of traditional country blues. Alec and Mike put their great spin on old classics like "Bad Luck Blues," "Welcome Table," "Keep It Clean" and also work their magic on original numbers like "140 on the 401," "Homesick Daddy," "Turn This Rig Around," etc.
-Hamilton Blues Lovers blog, January 17, 2011
"Assembling a collection of originals alongside tasteful tunes from the period, the debut Fraser Daley CD offers up a heady concoction of country blues that sounds vibrant and modern and not based on near century old influences".
-Ric Taylor, View Magazine (Hamilton), January 6, 2011