We are used to PR hyperbole – but the opening statement of ‘…….USA recording debut of Blues Music Award Winner, Giles Robson. The world leading British blues harmonica wizard, singer and songwriter has knocked it out of the park with a collection of 12 hard hitting and gritty original electric blues tunes….” States everything you need to know about Don’t Give Up On The Blues Says Giles Robson.
Now, what does Bluesdoodles think? We know that Giles’ harp playing has entranced us with his blues playing for many a year, whether live or recorded from back in the day with the Dirty Aces to his last album with Bruce Katz and Joe Louis Walker, Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues his stupendous harp playing cannot be ignored.
Opening with Land To Land, we are immediately uplifted with the searing dexterity of the harp and then, in contrast, the deep velvet crooning of Giles as the lyrics are driven home underwritten by melodic chords from Bruce Katz on his B3. We have started our journey and the blues power is strong! This is followed seamlessly by the title track, Don’t Give Up On The Blues where the vocals take the lead and the harp is calmer controlled and the beat is pure electric fuelled by the essence of Chicago.
Three tracks in and Damn Fool Way is opened by the beat of Ray’s drums joined by the harp that sears through the beat but the power is maintained on the drums leading a hypnotic rhythm with Goodwin’s bass completing the pattern that is definitely pure pleasure for the ear. The guitar from Aaron adds a curling lick adding to the texture that suits the lyrics and the vocal interpretation. The tempo mellows but the harmonic intent is pure blues on Your Dirty Look & Your Sneaky Grin! This is a track where the musicians are playing within themselves creating a sound that is so much greater than the individual parts – blues magic casts its spell a little bit further.
The album is packed with music that travels with a sense of purpose the beat and tempo’ ebbs and flows as the pace is picked up on Show a Little Mercy, listen to the lyrics there are some great lines referencing so much including Clockwork Orange on this track. Half-way through and we are ready to Boogie with Boogie At The Showplace, opening with sparkling blues-harp joined by Katz boogie rhythms on the keys what a combo; this instrumental makes sure your feet will be tapping and if live your dancing shoes will be dancing. We have two more instrumentals in the second half of the album, Giles Theme and Way Past Midnight closing out the album with style. Giles’ Theme again features Katz & Robson in tuneful harmony as the harp & B3 enjoy a friendly musical duel. At last but definitely not least is a melodic beauty Way Past Midnight. We are given blues-harp acrobatics as Giles performs capturing tonal moods that haunt, this is music that makes your soul cry with that mix of pain and delight that exceptionally well played and timed blues gives you every time.
Now back to the other tracks that have vocals as an additional tonal sound. Fearless Leaders, the title describes the approach to the blues by Giles and the band it is fearless producing a confident mood-changing sound. Aaron’s guitar is the instrument that the harp duals with and it is a draw as the tonal mix is perfect on this topical number. The beat picks up with the drum beating out as the pitch and the instrumentation compliments Giles’ vocals that are so often overlooked as we listen in awe to his blues-harp playing. Katz’s B3 is in a playful mood as we Hey, Hey Now!
The tone, variation in textures and the harmonics heard throughout the album it is outstanding and this is highlighted once again in Life, With All Its Charm. The penultimate track is a foot-stomping upbeat That Ol’ Heartbreak Sound a classic Robson number heard on his previous albums and reminds me of the sound achieved with the Dirty Aces.
Once again Giles Robson has created an album where the music is retro, timeless with an edge of modernity so the sound is relevant and fresh today. The rhythms are infectious but there can be no argument that from the first to the last track driving energy the glue that binds you is the blues-harp once they touch Giles lips magic happens and we are under their sparkling blues spell. Don’t Give Up On The Blues Says Giles Robson, no we will not is our unanimous chorus.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Land To Land
- Don’t Give Up On The Blues
- Damn Fool Way
- Your Dirty Look & Your Sneaky Grin
- Show A little Mercy
- Boogie At The Showplace
- Fearless Leaders
- Hey, Hey Now!
- Giles’ Theme
- Life, With All Its Charm
- That Ol’ Heartbreak Sound
- Way Past Midnight
Giles Robson – Vocals & Blues Harmonica
Bruce Katz – Piano/B3
Aaron Lieberman – Guitar
Antar Goodwin – Bass
Ray Hangen – Drums
Produced By:Ben Elliott, Giles Robson, Bruce Katz
If you are Blues fan join my journey with BBC Journalist Carrie Cooper to the Memphis Blues Music Awards, Chicago and Clarksdale Mississippi. We meet artists such as Buddy Guy, Bobby Rush, Billy Branch, Kingfish Ingram, Linsey Alexander and many many more industry leaders, club owners and experts. The documentary runs for 120 minutes. Then, check out BBC Blues Documentary – Journey To The Heart Of the Blues on BBC IPlayer