The Bookends New Album From Eric Gales

I must confess that until I saw him do a couple of numbers as a guest of Supersonic Blues Machine at the Ramblin’ Fair in 2017 I hadn’t really heard of Eric Gales.  Clearly, he is held in high esteem by fellow guitarists, Joe Bonamassa being one of those to heap praise on the guitarist from Tennessee. He made his name playing the blues but has crossed genres with different collaborations over the years and the hybrid nature of his playing is evident on this varied selection of cuts that feature his fluid playing and strong vocals (the latter being something that producer Matt Wallace apparently wanted the guitarist to develop for this offering). 

The opening track, with its literal title “Intro” is a short moody instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on a Jazz-rock record.  The diversity featured across the album is displayed on the second track, which features the singer B Slade and following its chiming acoustic intro develops into a funky rhythm before the whole band kicks in and the guest vocalist’s R’n’B/gospel style singing begins; the backing vocal call and response and repetitions are arrangements not often heard on blues records.   “Whatcha Gon’ Do” is more familiar territory with its heavy rock riff, but changes mid -song to a sweeter minor key refrain prior to the introduction of a wailing solo that continues underneath a repeated vocal line. “It Just Beez That Way” opens with some pseudo scat singing, and an excellent acoustic riff before the vocals start over a jazzy blues riff. Halfway through everything drops away apart from the now funkier riff and some inter-locking beats, over which a few spoken words are a prelude to the busy instrumentation coming back in and the sung repetition of the song title. Standard blues this certainly isn’t! “Southpaw Serenade”, featuring Doyle Bramhall II, is a slow burn of a song with a jazzy feel, tinkling keys and fat sounding bluesy guitars throughout, with a really nice solo.

Two tracks that really stand out are the instrumental “Resolution” that starts with a strong, anthemic motif played against fingerpicking that builds and builds with Gales’ guitar burning hot as he plays a screaming solo; the other is a fabulous cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” with the help of a great vocal from Beth Hart accompanying Gales, and which takes Joe Cocker’s version as its starting point.  This is really superb and stands up as one of the better covers of a Beatles’ song.  Overall, this is a strong collection of songs with intricate, thoughtful arrangements and great guitar playing, that are well worth a listen.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting

  1. Intro
  2. Something’s Gotta Give
  3. Whatcha Gon’ Do
  4. It Just Beez That Way
  5. Now Do I Get You
  6. Southpaw Serenade
  7. Reaching For Change
  8. Somebody Lied
  9. With A Little Help From My Friends
  10. Resolution
  11. Pedal To The Metal

Musicians

  1. Eric Gales – Guitar, Vocals
  2. Mono Neon – Bass
  3. Aaron Haggerty – Drums
  4. LaDonna Gales – Backing vocals, Percussion
  5. Dylan Wiggins – Organ
The Bookends New Album From Eric Gales

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