Travis Bowlin on New Album puts Secundus first

For one so young (he was born in 1988), Travis Bowlin has already achieved a hell of a lot. Not only can he play the guitar, he can make them too! At first he made cigar box guitars for his own use but people seeing him use them, created a demand that he now meets through his separate business, Bowlin Box Instruments. Travis was born near Cincinnati and raised in a household full of many genres of music…so he soaked up blues, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and country. He got his first guitar aged 15 and very soon started to perform around his home and surrounding states. To take his devotion a step further, he moved to Nashville and released his first album in 2014, called See You Again. His influences have a wide range as he cites Led Zeppelin, BB King, Robert Johnson, Prince, Steppenwolf, 3 Dog Night and Albert King amongst others.

He has now released his follow up album called, rather neatly, Secundus, as it means second but can also, apparently, be used to mean ‘lucky’. It contains 12 all original tracks and shows a development from that first outing with its more developed, blues-oriented feeling and manages to cover virtually every emotion a human being can experience. There are many more flavours to be discerned and I can hear jazz and soul in the mix and I even picked up a hint of progginess in a Yes kind of way.

Having said that, opening track Strange Vibes took me back to the 60s with a pop flavoured blues that reveals a soulful side to the vocals. The picked solo is in keeping with the period and the piano, low in the mix, give it a fully rounded sound and ends up unspectacular, but still hugely enjoyable. In The Worst Way is pure slow blues with a neat riff and the bass following the lead, and some rim snare snapping away. The short solo is tastefully laid back with a lovely wah tone. Dancin’ With The Devil is a faster rock inspired number, with a nice stop/start riff at the end of the verse. The rest of it, especially the drums, are a bit muddy in the mix, which is a shame as the phased solo if it had been longer, would have made it even better. All Over Again is solid blues of the kind that Gary Moore excelled at. Travis is nearly up there on this one: his vocal aches as it should and the guitar is crying along with him. The solo is single notes played with the right amount of sustain with the occasional string bend…but it is too short for my guitar freak mind. Don’t Lead Me On is blues-rock with a Hendrix feel to the structure, guitar punctuation and vocals…apart from female backing vocals which sounds just right. Vicksburg Blues starts all back porch with harp and guitar (albeit an electric one) before it grows into a Chicago blues with a traditional feel to the riff and the more gruff vocal approach. A great song that cries out for a suitable solo that never arrives. Go To Girl has harp behind a simple but effective strummed guitar and has a tiny hint of funk because of this. The solo is understated and fuzzed and…is too short. You Know You Are is, like the first track, a pop soul hybrid with a great vocal, although it is a bit too ‘radio friendly’ for me. Casaurina Sand takes into the smoke-filled jazz clubs of the old movies, but with a soul singer at the mic. It isn’t unpleasant but will not be a ‘go to’ track for me. I Can Let Go is an acoustic led, piano-backed vocal work out which, passionate as it is, doesn’t really go anywhere instrumentally. Record Shop takes us into a totally different direction with the promised Yes references showing up in the melody, as I occasionally hear Owner Of A Lonely Heart …that doesn’t detract from an enjoyable song about record shops as they used to be. Final Track, Slow Cooker Man, takes us back to the blues in a lovely traditional fashion. A dirty wah guitar introduces an innuendo that is certainly original! The tendency is to sing ‘Hootchie Coochie Man’ but it somehow remains fresh and the guitar solo is the best on the whole album. This recognisable but novel approach to a standard structure makes it my favourite by far.

All in all, this is a very good album that reveals a talent in the making. Travis has a good voice and can play a mean guitar. His compositional skills are also very good and I’m confident that, as his approach develops, the next album will be even better.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Strange Vibes
  2. In The Worst Way
  3. Dancin’ With The Devil
  4. All Over Again
  5. Don’t Lead Me On
  6. Vicksburg Blues
  7. Go To Girl
  8. You Know You Are
  9. Casaurina Sand
  10. I Can Let Go
  11. Record Shop
  12. Slow Cooker Man

Musicians:
Travis Bowlin: guitar, vocals
B. Mooney: bass
D. Johnson: drums
K. Gupta: keys, organ
H. Aaron: harmonica
C. Holder, R.Randall: backing vocals

Recorded at Mainframe Recording Studio and produced by Travis Bowlin

 

Travis Bowlin on New Album puts Secundus first

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