Philadelphia bluesman Greg Sover has been playing the guitar since he was thirteen after his father taught him the basics. He went on to explore the instrument further teaching himself the technical aspects and developing into writing and singing. His list of influences cite the usual suspects; SRV, Gary Moore, Hendrix but also includes Bob Marley and the inventor of some sort of chair I think, called Jay-Z! (Sorry, couldn’t resist). His debut came out in 2016 called Songs of a Renegade and showed a promise which is surely bearing fruit. Regardless of influences, Sover proves very quickly that he can play a mean guitar and the six songs on his latest EP, Jubilee show a skilful blend of blues, rock and a few dashes of soul and reggae.
Opening track, Emotional, is a complex composition that I can only describe as heavy-blues-pop: sort of Robert Cray does Hendrix. It has an infectious bass pattern behind the riff and a neat solo in the middle, although the closing solo is even better. The title track, Jubilee, is pure blues with harp, slide and a foot drum before it moves into an electric slide piece of beauty. It remains uncluttered and sparse while still being full-on blues. Hand On My Heart starts acoustic and then gentle electric strumming over empathetic backing from the band gives it a soulful feel over piano and strings. It leaves me wondering what this is trying to achieve as it’s warm tones wash over but don’t engage. The next song is credited to Don D Robey who owned Duke-Peacock Records and was noted for dubious operating methods, including being attributed writing credits whilst being only the publisher…regardless, As The Years Go Passing By wipes the doubts about the previous track as the intro is wrapped in some lovely blues guitar playing. This has some truly expressive guitar phrasing and there is a distinct Gary Moore feeling to the whole structure that makes it a very good blues not-quite ballad with Sover’s playing outstanding. I Give My Love is the next surprise; starting with Caribbean acoustic and rhythms it is a reggae come blues that makes you jog along with it and appreciate the clever guitar even if it, ultimately, does not press any of my buttons. Next up is the standout for me…Temptation is a live recording which shows what a talented guitarist, vocalist and song writer he is. This has an inevitable standard blues pattern but interpreted with imagination (great lyrics too) and the backing guitar and soloing is superb. The final track is a cut down version of Hand On My Heart. It doesn’t appear any different and so I assume it may have been shortened for radio consumption.
Greg Sover is obviously a huge talent and bears watching in the future. This EP gives a flavour of what could be but, in my mind, doesn’t display his talents to full effect and treads a slightly safer path…make no mistake, these are good songs, played very well, but with so many fine artists out there he has yet to stand apart. In time, however, I am convinced he will and I am waiting with anticipation.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Hand on My Heart
- As the Years Go Passing By
- I Give My Love
- Temptation (live)
- Hand on My Heart (short edit)
Greg Sover: lead guitars, resonator guitar, acoustic guitar and lead vocals
Garry Lee: electric bass, background vocals and percussion
Allen James: electric guitar Tom Walling: drums
Wally Smith: keyboards
Francois Zayas: percussion on “I Give My Love”
Yoni Draiblate: cello on “Hand on My Heart”
Joseph Arnold: violin on “Hand on My Heart”
Mikey Junior: harmonica on “Jubilee”
Garry Lee and Leslie “Shoegirl” Waxman: hand claps on “Jubilee”
All songs written by Greg Sover except “I Give My Love” written by Greg Sover and Garry Lee and “As the Years Go Passing By” written by Don D. Robey
Produced by Garry Lee with Greg Sover.