Playing catch up at a crowded desk, means I, at last, get to share the blues-rock maestro, Anthony Gomes, on his October 2020 release, Containment Blues; no prizes for guessing of which containment he is referring to.
This is the follow up to the superb Peace, Love and Loud Guitars and is his eleventh studio album…so, if you haven’t heard him before, be prepared to spend because you will want to delve deeper into his skilful and varied work. Bluesdoodles reviewed his excellent Electric Field Holler in 2015
This album started off with the intention of producing another blues rock furnace but, when the pandemic bit, he shifted emphasis: Anthony explains, “we were living in strange days and we wanted the music to reflect the times we were living in. We weren’t certain on how to achieve this exactly but we agreed to start the journey.”
So the concept became written and arranged for just his voice and astounding acoustic skills but, after penning most of the songs, access (under social distancing) was allowed in studios and so additional instruments were added by contributors from across the globe echoing the global effect of covid…it also brought different colours from the musicians: still blues with rock but with an occasional international flavour courtesy of the special guests.
The opener, Make A Good Man (Wanna Be Bad) starts with an “ooh, nasty” and evolves into a blues-rock slice of niceness even though it uses the well-worn trope riff beloved of ZZ. Anthony’s voice is perfectly suited to this gritty song and the slide adds colour over the riff and then doesn’t give us a solo! Cowbell anyone? Well, Hell and Half of Georgia uses it nicely as we get a Faces/Crowes sort of blues rollicking rock. More slide colour but no solos again!
This Broken Heart of Mine is a soulful ballad to show that he can do subtle and sad too and out Rod Rod (when he was doing proper music!)…strings add atmosphere and then we get a delicious guitar solo that is woefully short; it’s picked sweetly and uses just the right amount of notes.
Praying for Rain has a lot going on as the percussive start behind the vocals draw you in; mandolin, banjo brings a hint of country to the background but in essence, for me, this is all about the absurdly short but beautiful acoustic solo and similarly the electric one on the outro; this will also provide a great sing-a-long, lighters waving audience song. No Kinda Love is pure smoky blues with the harp keening behind the vocals.
Let love Take Care of Love is a slower, acoustic strummed song that lets Anthony’s vocals carry the emotion as the keys add washes of sentiment. There is the odd bottlenecked phrase too, which cried out to be extended…for selfish old me anyway.
Stop Call Women Hoes and Bitches is a message that should be screamed from every roof-top (as an aside, Facebook in the UK blocked an account run by a group of people who protect and promote tourism in Plymouth (that’s the original one) when they posted an article on the area of the city where Sir Francis Drake supposedly played bowls before sailing to rout the Armada…the place is Plymouth Hoe. I note this simply because it illustrates the ignorance and/or misinterpretation leads to offence; the answer is simple…respect for all.) This vital tale is backed by heavy blues that may be familiar but in Anthony’s hands it is fresh; slide phrasing makes appearances and (hurrah!) a superb wah’d, bendy solo of less than a minute.
Until the End of Time is acoustic picking par excellence which, later in the track, turns a bit flamenco in a neat way. The string backing is subtle as, once again, the electric adds phrases that add another layer; his vocals are full of expression to suit the story of love lost. Tell Somebody could have just stepped out of the swamps as the guitars and stomp pull you right in and join in on any available surface…these words were typed in time to this infectious song, which isn’t the most efficient way! More excellent phrasing from the electric is slotted in, although no solo, again.
The Greatest 4 Letter Word isn’t anything like you were expecting: it’s gentle…almost a lullaby with cello and violin bringing emotion to suit that in Anthony’s impassioned vocal. The word is, of course, l.o.v.e.
To wrap up the album, Containment Blues, has acoustic slide over a rock’n’roll rhythm as Anthony laments a flight cancellation means his mother-in-law is stuck with him and his wife…that means no “peaches and cream”, a lack of toilet paper and a desire for social distancing to mean something more! A fun but well structured bluesy song.
This album is a joy from first to last and, although I constantly wish for more demonstrations of his prowess on the guitar (solos) that is really a minor niggle by a guitar loving blues fan…it is still a great album that will dispel your own containment blues with eleven varied, well crafted and entertaining songs.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws: A Wonderful album with many, many layers that unfold with every listen. The only problem will be that if you’re new to Mr Gomes, you will want to buy the entire back catalogue.
1. Make a Good Man (Wanna Be Bad)
2. Hell and Half of Georgia
3. This Broken Heart of Mine
4. Praying for Rain
5. No Kinda Love
6. Let love Take Care of Love
7. Stop Call Women Hoes and Bitches
8. Until the End of Time
9. Tell Somebody
10. The Greatest 4 Letter Word
All songs by Anthony Gomes
Anthony Gomes: guitars, vocals
Jacob Mreen: bass
Bobby Stone Jr and Chris Whited: drums
Gabriel Crespo: keyboards
Hector Ruano: harmonica
Paul Tooley: banjo, mandolin, fiddle
Margarita Chernova: violin
Carolina Teruel: cello
(iTunes took me back to the days when TV on the Radio (Tommy Vance on Radio 1) was the only way to hear new music (Sounds was the preferred printed source) and that is where I first heard Anvil’s finest song bar none…At The Apartment is pure class.)