Release Date:
July 22, 2008

Reviewed by:
Bonnie Schendell

NuGroove Records is once again the home of Paul “Shilts” Wiemar, former frontman for the urban funk band, Down to the Bone.  But this time it’s as a solo artist.  Shilts’ third solo project, Jigsaw Life, comes at a time when listeners are craving new, fresh, innovative, and original music.  Shilts more than delivers this on his latest CD.

This album has ten original tracks, most of which were written exclusively by Shilts, and is a true showcase of all of the styles of music that have brought him to this point.  Joining him are Bill Steinway (organ, piano), Nate Phillips (bass), and Randy Jacobs (guitar).  Shilts also gives us some grooves of his own on the soprano sax as well as his signature tenor.  Put these pieces together and you get the whole picture – unforgettable melodies, hooks and powerful grooves.

Opening Jigsaw Life is “Piece By Piece.”  And what an opener this is!  Shilts totally cranks it up.  He even pulls out the soprano sax and creates a funky tenor/soprano duet.  “Back on the Hudson” has an upbeat dance groove.  It’s the only Down to the Bone-like track on the CD.

“Smile for Me” is just a fun sax tune; a headbopper with a totally youthful sound.  Vocals are provided by the man himself, and the ending giggle is from none other than Morgan Wiemar, Shilts’ daughter.

“Broken Silence” is a simple but powerful tune, again bringing in the soprano to lead alongside a string quartet.  It’s got a killer guitar solo at the end that will stun the masses.  “Too Close to the Edge” is upbeat and light.  Nothing but fun on this one.  If you are in the mood for a beat-driven tune, “Listen Up” is for you.  The sax plays around the groove with a snappy sound.  Very crisp.  One of my favorites is “Outside the Box.”  It’s funk and blues all wrapped up and thrown in your face.  Shilts handles all of the instruments on this except for guitar.  This tune has a gritty sound complimented by the electric guitar of Randy Jacobs.

Changing tempos and emotion, Shilts gives us the ballad of “A Promise is a Promise.”  It’s a sentimental, heartfelt tune sure to stir the ladies.  “Ain’t It Marvelous” has that signature tenor sax that is pure Shilts.  It’s got a great melody and catchy hook.  Very cool song.  Closing things out is “The Gentlemen Please,”  another upbeat, catchy tune.

This entire CD brings together all of the puzzle pieces that were spread out through Shilts’ music career.  Here, Shilts the composer, producer, and musician make it all fit.  Jigsaw Life is one of the best offerings out this year.