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 friend, mentor and muse. This is my fifteenth Danny CD (twelfth studio) and, unbelievably, he just gets better and better. As with his last album, Means of Escape, the title is something I can also relate to in a big way as every time I read the news, anger and determination are the usual result and so, The Rage To Survive already resonates. (Strangely and/or coincidentally, Rage To Survive is the title of Etta James’ autobiography in which she tells all about her ‘exploits’ without any gloss.)
This is a ‘live in the studio set that took just four days because, as Danny explains: “I wanted the record to have the energy of us playing live, it had been over a year since we had all been in a room together and the tracks ‘Looking Good’, ‘Till The Bottle Runs Dry’ and ‘Rescue Me’ I wrote very much with an eye on them being fun and cool songs to play live. It was a great experience, it was great being back with the guys playing again and I think that energy comes across in the music.” What also comes across this release, like many works written during lockdown(s), is a mix of songs that are angry, contemplative, cathartic and tender…all set to superb melodies and guitar, backed by a band of consummate skill.
Opening with the title track, about lockdown feelings and rescuing a dog, we get vintage Danny: “Storms comin’” are the first words and, although not fast, it has a bluesy weight. With a riff reminiscent of Steve Morse and, of course, a stunning, paced, crafted and wonderful solo; anyone would find it difficult to find a stronger opening song…the only fault is that the second solo is just getting going when the fade arrives.
The next track is just as strong as Danny channels his inner Free/Bad Co with another genius riff on Trouble With Love: neat keys reinforce the sterling work from bass and drums as Danny shows a gruff, yet tender side and unleashes another blistering (and blisteringly good) solo. Invisible Me concerns mental health issues and isolation that Danny experienced during the lockdown and, after a keyboard generated trumpet introduction, the electric piano accompanies an emotion-filled vocal… ”I’m the guilty side you cannot see; Invisible Me”. Subtle drums and bass join in as the emotions climb ever higher and, simultaneously, deeper and the guitar begins to pierce the darkness behind the verses before a perfect judged blues solo uses a few notes and tells the story again with just as much emotion…to the fade again, dammit!
Rescue Me lifts the pace with a bouncier blues riff and lead breaks preparing the way for the vocals to beg for help in dispelling the emptiness. The lilt belies the story and the Hammond solo is a delight before Danny serves another masterclass in blues with feeling in his solo. Falling Tears begins with a lovely toned acoustic as, once agin, Danny pours his heart out and into this song…just him and his acoustic; no histrionics, no solos, just emotion in its purest form. To lift us back up is the blues romp of Make Me Pay: a standard blues riff with some nice Hammond backing the story of being “a changed man, darling” but still paying…the solo is rock slotted neatly into the blues format and is a belter.
A love song with a sting in the tail rather than a cricket match is the basis of Rain Stopped Play…Hammond intro, great bass line and some lovely guitar punctuations lead to another crafted, paced and beautifully toned solo with some great bends and sustain.
Next up is Looking Good: a horn backed instrumental where the guitar and horns trade licks (or blows!) that will get you tapping and singing along as the words are there just not sung…and then speechless at the superb use of the guitar as an instrument of many characters as the chords and fretwork combine to dazzle.
The penultimate track, Till The Bottle Runs Dry out-Quos Quo with the familiar chord structure but, with some nice perky, plinky (!) piano and yet another genius guitar solo that covers the decades brilliantly: play spot the era as Danny caresses the neck with such skill. Wrapping it all up is a ballad of depth and emotion…Westport gives no real clue as to which one: Ireland, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Somerset? Who cares, the solo on this is worth the entrance fee alone and (sorry Danny) I forget that your heartfelt plea is the point of the song as I lose myself in the fretwork.
In a year of excellent blues guitar albums (Joanne Shaw Taylor, Bernie Marsden, Chantel McGregor, Troy Redfern, Shawn Taylor, Donna Herula…and more) The Rage To Survive is one to add to the “essential purchases list” It 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. Add to that Danny’s own unique flair, attack and blues vocals and another outstanding blues album is born.
Bluesdoodles rating: 5 Doodle Paws – a Stupendous blues and guitar loaded album that never loses sight of the song…Danny manages to feed the guitar so naturally into all of the songs that they become an integral part and not ‘tacked on’ or ‘shoe-horned in’ as many seem to fall victim too…buy it, love it, go see him on tour, you won’t be disappointed.
The Rage To Survive
Trouble With Love
Make Me Pay
Rain Stopped Play
Till The Bottle Runs Dry
Danny Bryant: guitar, vocals
Alex Phillips: bass
Dave Raeburn: drums
You can catch the ‘Danny Experience’ live at two UK shows in November and an extensive UK tour starting on 23rd March promoting The Rage To Survive and supported by the wonderful Eric Gates (*).
14/11 – Stowmarket John Peel Centre
6/11 – Redcar Redcar Blues Club
7/11 – Carlisle The Old Fire Station (Charity “Feel The Bonfire Blues” concert with Stoney Broke and Stephen Dunn in aid of the Alzheimers Society.)
The Rage To Survive Tour 2022 – March/April
23/03 Brighton Concorde*
24/03 Dover Booking Hall*
25/03 London 02 Islington*
27/03 Southampton 1865*
28/03 Bristol The Fleece*
29/03 Nottingham Rescue Rooms*
30/03 Bilston The Robin*
31/03 Manchester Academy*
01/04 Glasgow Oran Mor*
02/04 Whitley Bay Playhouse*
03/04 Leeds Brundell*
09/04 Sheffield HRH Blues Festival
UK shows on sale now for 2021 shows and a full UK tour in March 2022
(iTunes inevitably had lots of Danny Bryant which I indulged in before moving to some 1972 heavy rock with a prog and psyche edge…the now collectable band Dark and their great album, Round The Edges. The edgy RC* is one of the creamier choices.)