Grady Champion’s Steppin' In: A Tribute to Z.Z. Hill, is a blueprint for American Blues. The album sounds exactly what you would expect it to sound like. Noisy guitar licks find their way onto every song, paired with the appropriate boom bap drums and flavorful piano ballads. Champion’s voice lacks a certain nuance when comparing him to his contemporary blues and soul peers, such as Brittany Howard, however his limiting range hits the exact vocal discrepancy needed to capture the fiery ferocity of the typical Blues Singer.
Unfortunately for Champion, the albums defining quality, is also its greatest weakness.
The tribute approach to the blues genre of music leaves very little room intrigue. Blues riffs have a very distinct bounce, and though enjoyable to listen to in small doses, a 44 minute record of just that gets pretty repetitive. Grady Champion’s album is by no means a terrible project, it embodies the genre with respect. If you want a record that has all the technical workings of Z.Z. Hill, this is the album for you. However, if you want something a little more creative, you might want to pass on this one.