If you were to stop a random person on the street and ask them to name a blues musician, the chances are they’d come out with names like John Lee Hooker, BB King, or maybe even Joe Bonamassa. If you were to ask them to name a Blues-Rock musician or band you’d probably be met by a puzzled reaction, but in some ways that’s not a surprise – after all Blues rock covers such a wide range of music that it’s hard to even pin down what it is. Blues rock guitarist/singer Philip Sayce demonstrates this perfectly with his new album, Influence, an album that at times owes more to Jimi Hendrix than John Lee Hooker.
If that sounds like a strange statement – More Hendrix than Hoooker, just listen to “Out of my mind” and you’ll hear exactly what I mean. It’s not what I’d expected when I hit play for the first time – this song really does have a real Jimi Hendrix feel to it all the way through.
The first song, “Tom Devil” has such a heavy riff that it wouldn’t feel out of place on a Black Sabbath album. Again not what you’d think of as “Blues rock”, but that’s part of what makes this album so good – it doesn’t feel tied to a narrow musical range, but instead Philip Sayce plays what he wants, so you get a lot of variety. One thing that is consistent is the quality – simply superb at all times.
“Fade into you” is a slow number. Despite the use of an acoustic guitar alongside the electric guitar, it’s got a dark moody feel to it
In contrast to the first couple of songs, “Blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman on your mind” is a much more traditional blues number. Having said that, while the song feels more like a traditional blues song, the guitar work is heavier than you might associate with the Blues, so it’s got quite a modern feel to it.
The album is a mix of original songs and cover versions. Covers include “Green power” (Little Richard), “Better days” (Graham Nash) and “Peace in the valley” (Thomas A Dorsey – but covered by artists including Little Richard and Elvis Presley). With the album having so much variety then most of these cover versions fit in well – sometimes you’ll find artists including a cover version and a quick listen to the album makes it obvious which the cover was – it’s the one that sounds totally different to the rest of the album. “Peace in the valley” is the only one that does stick out slightly as being different as it’s a slow song with the vocals sounding quite different. It’s a different song, and the lack of much from the electric guitar for the first couple of minutes does make it stand out, but once you get to the guitar solo then that helps tie it in with the rest of the album.
This album isn’t what I’d initially expected, but that’s definitely not a bad thing – in fact this album is simply superb. There are a lot of very talented blues or blues-rock artists releasing albums in the second half of the year, so Philip Sayce is up against tough competition, but I’d be surprised if at the end of the year this album wasn’t featured in several “album of the year” lists.
“Influence” will be released on 25th August 2014 via Provogue records (part of the Mascot label group)
1. Tom Devil
2. Out of my mind
3. Sailin’ shoes
4. I’m going home
5. Fade into you
6. Blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman on your mind
7. Green power
8. Better days
9. Easy on the eyes
10. Evil woman
12. Light em up
13. Peace in the valley