Album Review of
All Out

Written by Joe Ross
February 25, 2021 - 2:09am EST
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Montréal-based blues ensemble Fuel Junkie packs a powerful punch as they open their hard-driving set on All Out, exclaiming “Rev it up, Pop the clutch. Don't let go 'til you're smokin' up. Mash the throttle, make those tires spin. I'm warmin' up 'cause I'm racin' to win.” The high energy band was formed in 2014 by tenor saxman, singer, composer and arranger Mark LeClerc who decided to combine a standard blues trio with a saxophone section. Besides LeClerc, the band is Philippe Brochu (tenor sax), Patrice Luneau (baritone sax), Antoine Loiselle (guitar), Jean-François Charest (bass) and Philippe Fleury (drums). On five cuts, we also hear Lex French (trumpet), Andy King (trumpet), Jean-Nicolas Trottier (trombone) and Olivier Lizotte (bass trombone). One instrumental on the album, “TorqueFlite” is a particularly nice showcase for the saxophone section, as well as a testament to LeClerc’s arranging for the entire 10 pieces.

The songs are engaging and entice us to “Get Out on the Road” as LeClerc vocalizes, “Come on over, baby, I’ll take you for a ride. Slide right in, it’s even got leather inside. It’s got a 340 small block with aluminum heads. A four barrel carb so it’s well fed. Strap yourself in baby. Let’s get out on the road.” LeClerc’s brusque and burnished vocals are calibrated with varying degrees of passion and emotion. Instrumentally, these consummate musicians play with a lot of grit. Elements of rock, funk and soul give them a unique personality. Their fresh outlook, big sound and solid arrangements will generate considerable buzz and intrigue about Fuel Junkie.

“V-Twin” extends a rootsy invitation to take a spin with them. “Won’t you rock me like a V-Twin?, Yeah, I like it when it swings. Like a hard driving shuffle. You shake me to my soul.” The album’s theme has plenty of references to cars, as well as stories of pain, resentment and suffering in “High Stress, Low Money,” “Bad Luck,” “Hard Times,” and “Push Me Away.”

With this album (their first since the 2016 release Injected), Fuel Junkie is sure to get their music further afield and continue building a worldwide fan base of aficionados of well-played, raucous, rowdy, energetic blues. In “Can You Dig It?” LeClerc asks “I heard you say we weren't the real deal. So then tell me what it is that you feel. I get out there and let it all out. Isn't that what the blues is all about?” The band resonates with plenty of pulsating sound that’s sure to thrill. Fuel Junkie’s combination of new material, instrumental prowess, high-octane vocals, and collective energy will take them far. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)