Austin Young Band – Not So Simple | Album Review

Austin Young Band – Not So Simple

VizzTone Label Group VTAY-004

12 songs – XX minutes

www.austinyoungband.com

Ever since Austin Young made his fiery debut with the 2013 VizzTone release, Blue As Can Be, fans of blues-rock have been anticipating a follow-up. Despite his youth, the 16-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colo., showed exceptional talent at a young age.

It’s been a long wait for another release from the boy who was a four-time Colorado Blues Society Listeners Choice Award guitar player of the year, but the delay was worth it. Now a young adult, Austin’s Not So Simple clearly shows that he’s grown by leaps and bounds. He’s still a high-energy performer in primarily a power trio format, but the music he produces is biting and fluid without any of the shredding common to many of his contemporaries.

This is a bittersweet project for Young, a deeply spiritual person who’s involved with several charities, including Blue Star Connection and Habitat For Humanity. He picked up a guitar for the first time at age 12 under the encouragement of his father, Tim, who passed away in his mid-50s last year and to whom this all-original album is dedicated.

It features Alex Goldberg on bass and Forrest “The Rim Wrecker” Raup on drums, aided by guest appearances by Tom Capek on keyboards and Darwin Kramer, Bob Robboltz and Gabriel Mervine on horns. The material is an amalgamation of Austin’s influences, ranging from Albert King and Hubert Sumlin to Eric Gales, Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Bonamassa. And he remains totally grounded in his roots.

Modulated stop-time chording kicks off the opener, “Take Me Away,” as Young seeks an angel to take him away as he chooses his path in life. He’s heading west at the break of dawn in “Barren Road Blues” having realized he’s going to have to travel alone. The song chugs along with purpose atop a heavy bottom.

A syncopated military drumbeat kicks off the horn-fueled “Something More,” a realization that there’s something more important in life than money – especially lending a helping hand, before the title tune “Not So Simple” provides an aural break. It’s a slow blues-rock ballad about someone who deceives herself about the price a person has to pay for romance, while urging her to be kind to herself and others.

The music brightens for “Sets Me Free,” about the power of a lady’s love, before the horns drive “Heal My Heart,” a plea for a lady to let him know if he should stay or let her walk away. A catchy guitar hook kicks off “Letting Go,” which provides an answer to the previous tune, before the “Moving On” carries things forward with the assertion that the singer’s done holding on.

“Mountains On Fire,” a slow blues, serves as a metaphor from problems in life, before “Free” describes the realization of having lost one’s way and is delivered with powerful religious overtones. “Whirlwind” follows with a torrent of guitar pyrotechnics before Young delivers “Angel Flying Home,” a poignant tribute to his father, solo and acoustic, as he bares his soul to conclude the set.

Not So Simple is a rock-solid offering from someone who deserves your attention, and available through all major retailers.

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