Monday, August 19, 2019
Shaw Davis - Tales From The West - Redefines Hard Rockin' Blues
"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.