This album can be captured in a simple descriptive sentence. Music shaped by deep textured tonal Shades. The reality is there is so much more to an album full of complexities, which improve every time you listen. This is the skilful creation from, Doyle Bramhall II a guitarist, vocalist, singer-songwriter at the top of his game as he shapes the dozen tracks that is a musical creation.
Opening the album with Love and Pain the sonic confers the elation and hurt these two basic emotions bring into our lives. The guitar screams with a primaeval agony closing out the song with sonic sounds that pull the feeling of ecstasy from the complexities of the song into a single note. It is full of the grit of a dirt track well-travelled with the pit stops of love and pain. You have instantly connected the ecstasy the joy of going to live music being destroyed, shattered in a moment. The violence committed by a man and a gun shattering the feeling of love and connection into unspeakable terror, pain and isolation. The album opens with a song that entangles within the melodies and chord structures the skills that makes Doyle stand out from the crowd on this and every album he has been involved in. As he follows up the acclaimed fourth record Rich Man, with this fifth released on Mascot Label Group.
This is an album full of shades of tonal marvels and the texture deepens as the Hammer ring joins the journey Doyle and his imagination and superb musicianship joins the journey that Bramhall is taking our emotions on. The guitar and BV’s ring out to the pounding of the hammer blows of the drumming. The chaos is tamed and controlled by the vocals that give voice to the emotional turmoil when you are ‘down at the bottom’. Nothing is sweet with the grungy tones of music that blends the back catalogue of genres that have been our soundscapes creating a sound for the here and now.
Joining Doyle Bramhall II on Everything You Need is the guitar wizardry of Eric Clapton. The R&B sings out on this expansive track which is less claustrophobic than the opening two numbers. The guitar lead breaks are sweet and soothing the soul as the melody and textures of everything you need is captured deep in the groove. As you are coming to expect, Shades changes again as we travel from London to Tokyo with a fluidity of melodic movement and a sting from the cymbals.
On an album written with a personal outpouring of emotions Searching for Love is a duet. Actually, this is a threesome Doyle’s and Nora’s vocals and his sublime guitar work binding the vocals together through the dexterous handling of the six-strings. A clever ballad that flows never stalling into a simpering sea of clichés. The guests invited on the tracks add a dimension that increases the power of the writing and delivery by Doyle. With the Greyhound join him. As we look for that allusive elixir on Live Forever. The tempo is faster, there is an urgency captured across the track with superb backing vocals. The vibe captured here is hippy psychedelia with the closing notes you feel it could be possible!
Every track has a story to tell with a strong melodic narrative. They all deserve a mention as we explore the genius that is Doyle Bramhall II. Leaving you tracks to explore for yourselves there is always nuance to be discovered on an album that grows in stature with every listen. It would though be remiss of me not to mention, She’ll Come Around, nothing is over complicated, the guitar’s ever-presence never dominates with his vocals sung with genuine belief. This confidence in his artistic abilities shines through, hope is ever present as the sound grows and swells making a tonal statement you want to listen to.
Expecting a dark and brooding track, with the title The Night. You will be in for a surprise this is a Bramhall album! This is upbeat and positive a night with the full moon shining a light in to the dark of the night. The music paints a sonic landscape as varied as the night sky sparkling with the myriad of twinkling stars. Lastly, as he closes out the album with Going Going Gone, he is joined by the Tedeschi Trucks Band creating a statement track leaving us wanting more. Why? The sound is simply glorious as they combine to deliver a closing number that makes your soul sing.
Like many of the standout albums released throughout 2018, it is the melding and re-imagining of genres so that the album is about the music not whether it fits neatly into the category of rock or blues psychedelia or soul. Doyle uses the sound that suits the message and stage of the journey we have reached. We have experienced an array of multi-dimensional shades in our lives to be able to find the words to deliver our thoughts and emotions with an authentic ease. DBII does this throughout the album demonstrating he is truly comfortable in his own skin.
Shades enchants the ear and musical soul, as the textures shape the lyrics. Contemporary manipulation of melodic harmonies bringing drama and interest to an album that is never in the shadows of his critically acclaimed 2016 album Rich Man.
Doyle Bramhall II – Shades – Mascot Label Group
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
Love and Pain
Everything You Need
London To Tokyo
Searching For Love
Break Apart To Mend
She’ll Come Around
Going Going Gone
Doyle Bramhall II – Guitar Vocals
Chris Bruce – Bass
Adam Minkoff – multi-instrumentalist and string arranger
Carla Azar and Abe Rounds – Drums
Eric Clapton, Norah Jones, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Greyhounds