11 tracks / 57:34
For a blues-rock guitarist, it would be hard to find a better inspiration than the late Rory Gallagher, which is the case with Julian Sas from the Netherlands. When Julian was 17, he heard went to one of Rory’s shows, and that helped him make his decision to become a professional musician. But his influences also include Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and none other than jazz legend Miles Davis — this is indeed a murderer’s row of amazing musicians! For his new album, Coming Home, Julian draws on a little from each of these gentlemen for his 1970s style blues-rock extravaganza.
For this project, Julian takes on the vocals and guitars, and he is joined by Tenny Tahamata on bass, Roland Bakker on the keys, and Rob Heijne on the skins. Sas produced this album and recorded and mixed it with Louis Bos at Forest Sound Studio in Deest, the Netherlands. You will not find any covers tunes from his heroes, though, as all eleven of the songs in this hour-long set are originals that were written by Sas, Tahamata, Heijne and Bakker.
Guitar-fueled 1970s rock is pervasive on Coming Home, right from the first track, “Jump for Joy.” This song has a similar beat and feel as Golden Earring’s “Radar Love,” which is quite a coincidence as they are also a Dutch band. Julian swaps 8-bar solos back and forth with Bakker’s Hammond organ, which fits in well with the rollicking theme of this tune. The band slows things down for the second song, “Did You Ever Wonder,” which is has a heavy intro but quickly settles down into a more accessible blues sound. Julian has great guitar chops, as you will hear from the ripping solo he fits in here, but he also has a pleasant voice with just a touch of a southern accent. All of the lyrics are in English, in case you were wondering…
There are a lot more tricks in this quartet’s bag, so the band easily avoids the trap of turning this disc into a monotonous time capsule where everything sounds the same. One example of this is “Fear of Falling,” an eclectic mix of soft blues and soaring minor chords with huge dynamic changes that set up a foreboding sense of drama. For good measure, Bakker inserts a slick jazz piano break that seems to come out of nowhere. They back this song up with a killer bit of southern rock, “Coming Home,” which includes a well-picked acoustic guitar interlude in an otherwise electric track. Then they lay down “End of the Line,” which gets hard in a hurry after the Dobro intro, and finally reaches its zenith with a fairly nuts organ solo, and an off-the-hook guitar solo. There is a little bit of everything on this album!
After a full set of their own brand of rock, the band closes things down with the slower-paced “Walking Home With Angels.” There are a few influences at play here, from the Jimi Hendrix guitar tone during the introduction to the Allman Brothers style vocals and organ. As with the rest of the album, the backline of Tahamata and Heinje keep the beat under control, and do a great job of bringing it home here.
For fans of 1970s AOR blues-rock, Julian Sas’ Coming Home is a dream come true. It is chock full of slick songs with tons of guitar work, heavy drums, and plenty of Hammond organ; all of it is played with the kind of skill that is developed from the experience of years of touring. If this is your bag, check it out for yourself so you can get a dose of this cool stuff, and if you are the United Kingdom, make sure you click on their gig schedule, as they will be doing quite a few shows there before the end of the year.