While things never really bust loose, Strange Dreams simmers and smolders throughout. The disc finds its energetic peak on its fiery first track, "When It Rains," but the remainder of the set manages to maintain a steady groove somewhere below the flash point. The Robert Cray-esque feel of "Rains" sets the template for most of the tracks, and Simmonds provides solid playing throughout: fleet-fingered, but never deliberately flashy. His strongest statement here is on a straight, slow tune, the Robert Lockwood-like "Keep on Rollin'." And if Simmonds is not a memorable vocalist, he's at least inoffensive. Strange Dreams might not kick off the evening so well, but it's a great closer.
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