A note of confrontation underlies Bad Brad & the Fat Cats' latest release, Eyes on the Prize. Brad Stivers kicks off the finger-pointing on "Payin' My Dues," the album's first track: "How does it feel to be stuck?" he challenges as the band plays a standard blues shuffle. "You kept me down," he asserts on "Backburner," an organ-driven jam. Song titles like "You Left Us Here" offer a similarly defiant feel. Happily, though, the music itself never feels petty or petulant. With backup from Hohner Harmonica-sponsored harpist Nic Clark, Stivers and company deliver a record steeped in soulful blues and affecting conviction. In addition, the record's range is impressive, from the gospel-laced strains of "I'd Like to Stay" to the New Orleans-informed rhythms on "What I Want." Stivers's vocals and guitars are spot-on across the album's ten tracks, and the musicianship gives the confrontational vibe a surprising kick.
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