The synergy Paterson mentions in his thoughtful liner notes is immediately evident in the disc's eponymous opener - tough guitar, a swaggering beat, and HUGE harp tone. As a matter of fact, every song on the disc could be described that way! Liban and Paterson present us a groove album that is equal in artistic achievement and danceability, one where no song or style fusion seems out of place; in fact, tunes like "Must've Been Dreaming" call to mind the entirely plausible daydream of James Cotton jamming with Carl Perkins at Sun.
What sets this album far above the rest, however, is Liban's songcraft in both lyric and melody. He peppers his songs with memorable and meaningful lines like "Last night was my last call," on "No More Alcohol" and confidently doubles Paterson's guitar on "Real Good Deal." Every elegant instrumental break fits its song, and the arrangements keep the listener intrigued on repeated spins. There's little doubt; Jim Liban & Joel Paterson's "I Say What I Mean" is a long-overdue masterpiece of American roots music. Highly recommended.