Dan McKinnon – The Cleaner
Alcool Records – 2018
10 tracks; 49 minutes
Dan McKinnon is a young guitarist based in Toronto, Canada, and this is his second album release. Recorded live in the studio, this is a trio album with plenty of Dan’s power chords and solid support from bassist Peter Eratostene and drummer Michael Carbone. Dan wrote all the material and handles the vocals.
In the accompanying PR sheet Dan is quoted as admiring the period in the late 60’s/early 70’s: “albums like Bobby Bland’s Dreamer, BB King’s Completely Well and Muddy Waters’ Electric Mud were all rooted in the blues tradition, contained high-quality songwriting and sounded contemporary with the time. With The Cleaner I wanted to make an album that hit on those three points”. Dan certainly does that with “17 Years”, a fine ballad with soaring, fast-fingered guitar and reflective lyrics about time wasted and “Thoughtless” that blends a slow tune with some echoey chords and a churning core riff that develops into a good solo. Another reflective song “Till You Come Around” is a classic slow blues. Dan also demonstrates a lightness of touch on a BB-style shuffle “More Than Enough” which has an excellent solo and was definitely the standout track for this reviewer.
The rest of the album is as much rock as blues: opening track “Storm” is classic blues-rock with a repetitive riff, heavy bass and toe-tapping drums and “One Track Mind” bounces along on its core riff. “King Baby” has a riff that could have been Ritchie Blackmore’s in early Deep Purple and Dan chooses to use a distorted vocal, a technique he uses on several tracks including “Walk That Aisle”, another heavy track and two tracks that have a North Mississippi Hill Country vibe: “All Mine”, introduced by some rattling snare drum work by Michael, and the fast-paced album closer “WOWOWOW”.
Across the ten cuts Dan demonstrates that he has a range of styles with which he is comfortable. Clearly some will appeal more than others, as was the case for this reviewer, but the advantage is that there will almost certainly be something here that will appeal to most blues fans.