Cliff Stevens – Nobody But You
Self-Release – 2019
11 tracks; 46 minutes
This is Canadian guitarist Cliff Stevens’ fourth disc under his own name, having played for years as a sideman with a variety of groups before going solo. The CD was recorded, mixed and mastered in Montreal, Cliff producing the album himself and writing all the material. This is the first of Cliff’s music that this reviewer has heard and it is immediately apparent that he has a decent voice and plays guitar in a melodic and understated style. Cliff handles lead vocals and guitar but also covers the bass on seven cuts, making way for Domenic Romanelle on four tracks; Eric Sauvé is on keys, Sam Harrisson on drums and Kim Feeney on backing vocals. The PR sheet suggests that Cliff will appeal to those who like Clapton, SRV, Winter, Bonamassa, Allmans, Tedeschi Trucks and Kings Albert and Freddie – a long list that covers quite a few bases but in fact the music mainly falls into that area where blues meets melodic rock but does avoid the excesses that some blues-rock guitarists indulge in, making a pleasant listen.
Opening track “How Long” is a shuffle built round Cliff’s solid riff and some good piano work while lyrically we are in the area of breaking off a relationship: “how long before the chains are gone and I’m a free man”. Cliff plays a funkier style of guitar on “Say What You Mean” and the title track bounces along over an organ riff that gives Cliff a bit more space to show us his chops in a tasty solo. Two tracks with familiar titles follow: “Little By Little” drops the pace on a moody, late night blues that seems to suit Cliff’s voice less well than the preceding upbeat tunes; “Morning Rain” has Cliff playing acoustic guitar and adding electric accents on a song that is more Americana than blues, rather downbeat lyrically though Kim’s attractive B/V’s help Cliff out here.
“Cry Baby” starts with a Booker T style organ riff before Cliff hits the wah-wah pedal on the sole instrumental track here; the middle section swings like mid-6o’s Rn’B before the wah returns to take us home. “World Of Worry” has acoustic and dobro over brushed drums, a tune that musically reminds you of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” but lyrically uses some of the classic blues lines about being tied down and unable to escape the clutches of the woman, a good combination. Cliff regrets his behavior and begs his girl to “Come Back”, the heavy drums and slide a winning sound on a good foot-tapper before the insistent guitar riff and keyboard work of “Bad Luck”, Cliff again using the wah pedal on his solo. The next song finds Cliff bemoaning much of what is going on in the world but all that he can do is
“Keep My Love Alive”, parts of the tune sounding a little like “A Change Is Gonna Come”. The catchy “Truth Don’t Lie” has more piano work and a very EC style guitar solo to admire and makes a good finale to the album.