Monday, August 19, 2019

Shaw Davis - Tales From The West - Redefines Hard Rockin' Blues

Shaw Davis and his power trio known as the Black Ties are something of a musical anomaly. Yes their music is rooted in the blues and you can even hear bits and pieces of other guitar players, especially Robin Trower and Jimi Hendrix. This band has been making the rounds in South Florida to unanimous approval. The band's latest album Tales From The West, pours gasoline on an already large inferno. The energy level is on par with early Rush or the first incarnation of the James Gang. But still you have to turn it up a notch from there. Bassist Patrick Stevenson is much higher in the mix and really adds to the melody and structure of each composition. The unrestrained energy begins on track one.

"Take My Hand" is a blistering song that nods at psychedelic rock and is the perfect vehicle for an extended live jam. "Willie The Pimp" might be an updated version of a similar title by Stevie Ray Vaughan. The tale is actually a sad one but it's perfect for the blues. Except Davis takes it somewhere else with the grizzled chorus of vocals and a totally spaced out guitar break. The guitars explode back into the song with fire and fury. Drummer Bobby Van Stone is there to carry the heaviness one step further. "Tales From The West" is a more sparse track that again explodes into a big chorus and guitar with the words "You Ain't Welcome No More".

Three tracks in and you are thinking to yourself that this isn't formulaic. This isn't standard blues-rock. Depending on where you join the song, you might think you've stumbled on an old grunge band that can actually play their instruments. The problem is the soloing is too good to be grunge. The melodies are more subtle and take some time to understand. Which makes this a great multiple listen album. You seem to hear something new upon each new spin. "Mama Told Me" seems to be a continuation of the prior song with it's intro perfectly complimenting it's predecessor. There's a good portion of Hendrix within the chord structure of these notes with some delightful twists and turns. Like getting in a roller coaster blind folded.

"Fire Inside" is another three pronged attack on your senses. Shaw growls out some poignant lyrics, "You Can't Drown Out The Power of Soul" as some Cream-like harmony vocals careen the audio landscape. Don't attempt the guitar solo at home. It's as if it was trying to break through into the body of the song prior to it's entry. The song has a rebellious theme and the music more than augments that. "Know Where You Been" might be slightly more blues rock traditional, but the band still manages to create a big ruckus. "Atomic Groove" adds a layer of funk to the acid rock blues and it's a magical moment on the album. Meanwhile Shaw's solos continue to eviscerate sub-woofers everywhere. "I Gotta Try You Girl" lurches back to the progressive and at times psychedelic sonic wilderness with carefree recklessness. The album wraps with "My Friend", a real nod to Robin Trower. In fact I could hear a nice medley with "Bridge of Sighs" coming live in concert. The track builds to a climactic crescendo that pins the LED meters and is a fitting conclusion to one of the best hard rockin' blues albums in recent memory. It can't be stressed enough about how powerful these three guys are when they work together. Good loud rock and roll is one thing, but good loud, complicated and mostly very original rock and roll is another. If you love rock and the blues or even progressive hard rock, this could become your favorite album.


  1. Great stuff, especially that awesome bass player. Thanks again for
    the unexpected introduction. Loving the current direction of reviews
    about lesser-known modern day blues artists. Keep up the great work!!

    1. Yes. Unofficially I am giving up on the melodic rock scene over in Europe. Most of it is unimaginative and lacks originality.

  2. Well, probably for the best as most of those European acts, no matter how talented, seem to style their sound off a handful of eighties/nineties acts,and after awhile it all becomes far too
    derivative. As you've stated many times in numerous videos, always
    nice to hear old fashioned rockin' blues tunes properly recorded, mixed and mastered. Perhaps there is a parallel universe out there
    where this kind of music is the norm and the over-processed crap is
    in the minority or near non-existent. Until then, I guess I can
    continue to look to you for excellent new music selections. A quick
    Canadian suggestion for you: The Philip Sayce Group (lots of excellent music released over the past twenty years.)

  3. I did add them to my blues rock radio station on Spotify. Great band! You've got good taste!

  4. Here are some other fine Canadian blues rock musicians, past and
    present, whom you might enjoy: Jack de Keyzer, Wild T and the Spirit ('90s), David Gogo, Powder Blues Band ('70s, '80s), Monkey Junk, Sue Foley, Roxanne Potvin, and Anthony Gomes. All are excellent in their own unique way and worth further investigation. Happy listening!!

  5. And a fistful more of noteworthy Canuck blues rock acts I should have
    also mentioned above: Big Sugar, Grady, The Phantoms('90s) and Wide Mouth Mason.

  6. Thanks for all of those! I really dig David Gogo and Sue Foley. Anthony Gomes is good too.

  7. Glad you've enjoyed some of my previous selections. Here are some
    more tasty blues rock treats from the past quarter century or so:
    Chris Duarte Group. Little Axe, The Kinsey Report, The Hoax, Storyville, Black Cat Bone, Eric Sardinas, The Red Devils, and Michael Hill's Blues Mob,

  8. Willie the Pimp is a cover of a Frank Zappa tune from the Hot Rats album.