Miles to Go
Artist: Todd Wolfe Band
Produced by: American Showplace Music
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
A friend of mine has been at me to check out this local band named the Todd Wolfe Band. I was a bit leery - my friend knows one of the band members and I didn’t want to put her on the spot if I didn’t like the band’s music. But, then, I had an epiphany: just pretend my friend had never discussed the band with me. Approach it like any other band asking me to review their work. And so, it was with this approach that I checked out Miles to Go, an album by the Todd Wolfe Band.
Todd Wolfe may be a name you’ve heard before. He’s been playing the music scene since the late 1970s, performing with his band Nitetrain and using the early influences of bands like Cream, Fleetwood Mac and the guitar greats like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to express himself musically. Moving on to a band named Troy & the Tornados, Wolfe would meet Sheryl Crow, who was a little known back-up singer at the time. Moving to Los Angeles to write with Sheryl Crow and try for an album deal didn’t reap fruit at the time, but in the mid-90s, Crow, debuting in her first album, approached Wolfe for her touring band, a stint that would until 1998.
After a less than fruitful deal with A&M Records in a band named MojoSon, Todd Wolfe continued to partner up with other musicians, performing his craft and keeping the music alive. Recently, Wolfe teamed up with Roger Voss on drums and Justine Gardner on bass. Together, they form the most recent incarnation of the Todd Wolfe Band. Released in August 2013, Miles to Go is Wolfe’s eighth album since leaving Sheryl Crow’s band and the debut album of the band in this particular lineup.
The music of the Todd Wolfe Band is a bluesy rock featuring a lead singer whose soulful vocals remind some of Eric Clapton and Gov’t Mule, but most reminds me of John Cafferty (think Eddie and the Cruisers). Todd Wolfe’s guitar riffs are simply badass, Justine Gardner lays down a mean bass and Roger Voss offers up a rock beat that contributes to, rather than overpowering, the band’s bluesy rock sound. Together, Gardner and Voss offer up back-up vocals that perfectly blend with those of Wolfe. Helping out on this album are John Ginty on organ and piano, Steye Guyger on harmonica and Sweet Suzi on back-up vocals.
There’s just something about this band, with its retro blues meets rock sound that is captivating. After hearing just a couple of their songs, I decided to buy the album so I could hear Miles to Go in its entirety. It starts off with Nuthin’ But You, a love song in which Wolfe expresses that his life would be empty without his lover. Quite the contrast is the sultry sounding Sunnyvale in which Wolfe discusses his frustration at the way the woman he has an eye for ignores and mistreats him. Then, there’s Locket Full of Dreams, where the listener learns that you can leave someone high and dry, but you can never take their dreams with you and make them your own. This is followed up by a remake of an older Howlin’ Wolf blues song called Forty Four, the only song on the album besides The Inner Light that wasn’t written by Todd Wolfe or a combination of Todd and his band mates.
I found myself providing accompanying vocals by the fifth track, Day to Day and kept going from there. I loved the fact that I Stand Alone, a slightly depressing track, contained the album’s title as a refrain in the lyrics. Though I found myself enjoying most of the album, I think that Come What May, an instrumental track, really showcased the Todd Wolfe Band’s sound. No lyrics needed here, just some soulful bluesy rock with amazing guitar riffs.
Okay, I have to say it, my friend was right - the Todd Wolfe Band definitely has a distinctive sound that I could really sink my teeth into. Miles to Go was an exciting find for me, featuring the type of rock sound I was raised on, intelligent lyrics and guitar riffs that inspire the air-guitarist in me to perform in front of the mirror. Miles to Go is definitely one of those albums that has inspired me to keep an eye on the Todd Wolfe Band. I can’t wait to hear what this band has to offer next!