Dan Bubien – Empty Roads | Album Review

danbubiencd Dan Bubien – Empty Roads

 Self Release

 www.danbubien.com

 Having grown up around his musician father in the gritty blue collar Western Pennsylvania town of Aliquippa, Dan Bubien embarked on a lifelong pursuit of music. His band, The Sun Kings, established a strong local career for a decade. His appreciation of blues, soul and funk music come through in this, his first solo effort. His strong songwriting, vocal and guitar playing skills are showcased throughout the recording.

Funky electric guitar buzz-cuts through the mix, underpinning Dan’s forceful “blue-eyed soul brother” voice on the title tune. The funk banner is carried on to the next track “Fight Club”, courtesy of Eric DeFade’s sax and Timmy Mabin’s cool organ styling. “Don’t let them take the fight out of you, don’t let them take away the things you love to do”.

“Crazy Days” is an excursion through a smooth horn driven dreamy groove. Dobro, harmonica and piano interplay take a blues walk down a country road on “Exile Blues”. Slide guitar burns atop some crunchy rhythm guitar on the hard-edged “To Youngstown”. Chris Nacy once again lends his considerable harmonica chops to good affect. Tasty guitar bubbles under the tender ballad that is “Brother”. Here as elsewhere, Dan’s yearning vocals bespeak sincerity.

Morgan Maybray’s haunting backing vocal shoots up out of the mix like a sexy swamp creature on “Dizzy Eyes”, as funky organ and horns dance about. Exuberant, upbeat R&B rears its’ head to propel “Love Games”. Dan’s smooth and slicing slide guitar ups the ante. The easy rolling country blues of “Sniper” closes things out on a sprightly note.

Producer Jay Dudt manages to create a crystal clear soundscape as he brings the various instruments in and out of the mix. Having a choice group of supporting musicians makes his task that much easier. The all original songs presented here are well thought out and executed. Dan’s forte is clearly soul and funk, but he handles the blues with an assured authenticity. A blues aesthetic permeates much of the music included on this recording. The energy and technique are all on display. The only minor flaw is the lack of stronger hooks and melodies. The “in the moment” listening experience is totally rewarding, but the tunes tend not to linger in ones head. That being said, there is much to enjoy within.

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