After a brief solo foray into rural Appalachia on last year’s Wherever You Go, local singer-guitarist Hector Qirko returns to his regular outfit with a collection of slow-burn Chicago- and folk-blues tunes on Old School. What separates Qirko from so many other bluesmen of his ilk is that he never tries to be something he’s not; his is a clear-eyed and unassuming species of White Man’s Blues that comes off as comfortable in its own skin, and sounds all the better for it. The authentic blue-eyed soul evidenced in his succinct and confident vocals is of a brand of his own making—Qirko never fakes the funk.
As always, the HQ band displays stellar chops throughout, although leader Qirko’s guitar playing, as is his wont, is more about tasteful restraint than flashy display. The solo fireworks are often given over to sax man Dirk Weddington, whose dirty squalls and lip-quivering sustains scorch the earth on cuts like “Best Friend” and “I Don’t Care No More”; if you let ‘em, they’ll burn right through your heart.