… taking guitar playing into a new dimension
It’s hard to describe Sonny Landreth’s music; on one hand, it seems as if you can easily stick him in the blues-rock bucket without fear of contradiction. But his slide playing has an ethereal quality at times that makes it sound as if it’s coming from another dimension. He definitely coaxes melodies and lines from his guitar that are beyond other players. I’m sure most guitar players, amateur and pro alike, hear his playing and have that “wow” moment as their ears do a double-take and their brains unwittingly form a “how does he do that” question mark. He’s got a good, and also quite distinctive voice, but it’s on the instrumentals that he is heard to best advantage, with the complete freedom to explore a wider musical landscape unbound by lyrical restrictions.
The opening track “Beyond Borders” is a good example of this, a vibrant number full of energy-driven along by competing guitar and slides riffs and otherworldly explorations. Title track “Black Top Run”, a road song, displays the more traditional blues side of the guitarist, with the emphasis on country blues as banjo-esque picking on what sounds like a national steel follow the vocal melody. This has a lovely acoustic slide solo that starts as a classic blues construction and then morphs into a beautiful major scale melody.
“Don’t Ask Me” shows another influence that is evident in Landreth’s music; accordion heavy, the number has a real Cajun feel and the guitarist accompanies it with some laid back slide fills. “Groovy Goddess” is another amped-up instrumental with all sorts of different melodies and linking guitar passages coming together in an enjoyable mix. He really seems to take off on numbers like these. “Lover Dance With Me”, another excellent instrumental, follows. This has a superb rhythm guitar part mirroring the gliding slide moves.
It’s a compact album by today’s standards, with only 10 tracks, however, these are all top quality and the more you listen to these numbers and the abundance of musical styling you realise that not only are the songs of high quality but at no point do any of the numbers rely on an easy chug along beat; there’s always something interesting going on, which makes for much repeated listening pleasure.
In terms of classification, while Sonny Landreth may be associated with the blues, this album could be categorised simply as good music, accessible for all (and, if you are a slide guitar aficionado, an essential must-have).
Bluesdoodles rating: Wonderful – Will bring added ENJOYMENT to your collection
1. Beyond Borders
2. Blacktop Run
3. Don’t Ask Me
4. Groovy Goddess
5. Lover Dance With Me
6. Many Words
8. Somebody Gotta Make A…
9. Something Grand
10. The Wilds Of Wonder