Danny Bryant finds his Means Of Escape

Surely there is no need to introduce one of the premier blues-rock guitarists on the scene today…Danny Bryant has been touring and recording for a while now and counts Walter Trout as a friend, mentor and muse. This is my fourteenth Danny CD (eleventh studio) and, unbelievably, he just gets better and better. The title is something I can also relate to in a big way as I feel exactly the same way when he describes what music means: “Music is my release in the world, it’s my way of surviving, it’s my Means of Escape.”

I am guessing that his long-term partners Alex and Dave are responsible for the fabulous backing as the styles sound familiar and, once again, they seem to have a psychic link that welds them together and provides solid, varied and masterful bass and drums to give Danny the platform to shine, and his ‘Big Band’ join in when the composition dictates. He is also one of those guitarists that can reference his inspirations whilst maintaining his own distinct identity. This is evident on the first track, Tired Of Trying, as the Trout via Hendrix references are there but it is still all Danny…and damn good it is too. The riff is all lovely heavy blues-rock and the solos are inspired; the style of picking and phrasing is clever and, when the occasion suits, employs bends, hammers and harmonics. In fact, he dedicates it to Walter “with much love and respect”.  Too Far Gone is next and the inclusion of The Big Band brings a depth to what is essentially a traditional blues pattern heavied up with organ and piano joining subtle horns while Danny puts the passion into the vocals and guitar punctuations and then the solo has the Kossoff sensibilities of space, texture and tone. The whole track was apparently done in one take and that makes it even more impressive. The title track, Means Of Escape, is a celebration of music as a release, a shoulder to cry on, a means of support both spiritually and mentally…the strummed backing is purposely light to give room for the trademark runs to shine between the lines of the lyrics. It is these runs and the sparkling solos that ensure the song is memorable, as, without them, it could have turned into a vague, less powerful statement. Nine Lives is next and takes us to Texas for some great blues. The B3 solo is perfectly pitched and employs some wonderful flourishes before the guitar solo lifts it still further…yes, it is traditional, but when that tradition is interpreted so keenly it is simply superb. We move to acoustic territory with a heart-wrenching song with lyrics that burn into the soul, especially if, like Danny and I, you have watched a loved one fade away in front of your eyes. Skin And Bone is a painful and yet rewarding song if you have been there…it is still a moving acoustic ballad if you haven’t. After the sadness comes a solid blues-rock song that is a sort of Gary Moore with horns…the musical ones, not head-mounted ones! Warning Signs (In Her Eyes) has a typical riff but has the Big Band variations and Danny’s flair to make it the same but different. Another great B3 solo and a guitar solo that explores the neck and is fluid but, thankfully, keeps the right number of notes rather than overplaying as so many are wont to do. More sadness next as Where The River Ends was written for a friend who lost his daughter. It beyond touching and Danny sings over the piano intro in a way you wouldn’t think his ‘gruffness’ would allow. When the band come in it stays laid back but powerful…B3 and guitar echo the heartache and it develops into an electric (in every sense) ballad that stays with you. The closing solo lasts for nigh on two minutes and because of the emotion, Danny wrings out of every distinct note it is still way too short. Next up is, as far as I know, a first for Danny as on Hurting Time we get a superb slide guitar intro that makes me wonder why it has taken so long. It is a standard blues phrased, slow rock song that works well and is different enough to be welcomed every time. The “piana”, as Danny introduces it, adds an inventive solo that heralds Danny on a slide solo that makes me imagine Son House on electric guitar…you are that good Danny; more slide, please! The final track, Mya, is an instrumental that closes a great album with a mild surprise as electric piano and B3 combine to set the scene before the guitar speaks…and speak it does as each carefully selected and picked note replaces lyrics with a lyricism of their own. A slow blues number that may not seem that different from other players efforts…until you listen carefully and begin to appreciate the tone and emotion that every pick and bend has in abundance. A shiver-inducing instrumental and I am now firmly in love with Mya too.

This is as good a blues-rock album as you are likely to hear this year. It has a darkness and yet illuminates and above all, for me at least, is an object lesson in what blues guitar is all about: a deftness of touch that can make you experience the whole gamut of emotions.

TENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. Tired of Trying
  2. Too Far Gone
  3. Means Of Escape
  4. Nine Lives
  5. Skin And Bone
  6. Warning Signs (In Her Eyes)
  7. Where The River Ends
  8. Hurting Time
  9. Mya


Danny Bryant: guitar, vocals

Alex Phillips: bass

Dave Raeburn: drums

The ‘Big Band’

Produced byDanny Bryant

Recorded at Chapel Studios Engineered by Ian Dowling

Mixed by Eddie Spear

Mastered at Abbey Road by Sean Magee

Danny Bryant finds his Means Of Escape

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