The No Refund Band

On the morning this album arrived in the mail, I was in one of those dead-to-music moods that strike even the most devoted music lover on days when it all just seems to have grown stale. I dutifully inserted the disc into my player, almost certain I was going to be bored by what I was about to hear. Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself cocking an ear from the first chord on the first track, an inventive cover of “Blues is My Business” (recorded by Etta James in 2003). Familiarity with that song bred no contempt for the way front man Ricky Jackson handled vocals and lead guitar, a first impression that held up through the 11 tracks that followed. Jackson’s vocals are amplified and supported by an innovative band that includes flugelhorn, trumpet, sax and strings on some cuts, along with Travis Doyle’s soulful Hammond B3 organ, all combining to create exciting changeups on songs that might otherwise have seemed predictable. It takes talent, and a little chutzpah, for a band to take on “Eleanor Rigby,” the Beatles classic, but The No Refund Band customizes that song here, forcing even a bored reviewer to hear it anew. Major props to this band for reawakening my love of music on a morning when that seemed unlikely.