Lloyd Spiegel – Backroads
Only Blues Music
Blues musicians of all disciplines have a distinct sound, a certain individual virtuosity that sets their technique apart. Many solo Bluesmen and Blueswomen nest in their individuality even more strongly. John Hammond’s raw emotive hysterics; Chris Thomas King’s channeling of Robert Johnson; Rory Block’s confident utilitarian crafting. Lloyd Spiegel is this type of solo Bluesman, an arpeggiating, percussive, lightning fast runner of the solo acoustic fretboard. He is the type of player who uses the guitar like a keyboard, seamlessly playing thumping bass runs with accompanying intricate chording. All while singing heartfelt well crafted original songs and blues staples. This style can be heard in its most pure uncut form on 2015’s Double Live Set.
It’s because of Lloyd’s singular talent that his newest record Backroads is so impressive. But it’s not what you think. Spiegel places his solo guitar playing in the background as a foundation for overdubbed incendiary electric lead work. With drummer Tim Burnham throughout and a cast of supporting musicians all offering one-off contributions (see credits below), Spiegel has evolved his music. One has to listen to this record a couple times to fully grasp the depth of what is going on here. Spiegel uses his mind boggling solo technique as well as custom made guitars to lay down fantastic performances with Burnham that have all the depth of a full band but only have 1 or 2 guitars and drums – no bass guitars.
Opener and lead single “The Kick Around” is a stomping manifesto of this new aesthetic. This all electric fuzzed out scorcher finds Spiegel carousing through bars and being beat up by the road. The super catchy riffage never veers off into cliche land in spite of its straightforward recognizability. The amalgamation of guitars, drums and effected vocals gel and give the listener a warm butt-shaking experience.
Lloyd has a new found songwriting muse. Moving from previous albums’ aspirational and forward focused writing, Backroads is more reflective and cathartic trying to illustrate the sacrifices and struggles of a road warrior. “Bridges to Burn” illustrates this most apparently. This is not a Blues song in any traditional sense. It has a moving chord structure and big choruses that are more akin to Crazy Horse Neil Young or even a faint echo of 80’s rock ballads. This song is a little jarring after the old time-y romp of preceding track “Betcha Bottom Dollar” (with it’s super cool trombone work from Lisa Baird). But, this juxtaposition feels creative and intentional. Spiegel seems to be trying to keep the listener on their toes, creating a roller-coaster of a song cycle, just like the life of a touring musician.
Blues purists fear not there are some real deal Blues here too. “The Price You Pay” is a smooth soul blues slow burn. The churning John Lee Hooker styled boogie “Sweet South West Blues” rolls down the highway. Similarly, fans of Spiegel’s past work will connect most strongly with “Beautiful and Dangerous” in which that arpeggiating solo guitar technique takes center stage.
Lloyd Spiegel is Australian and he tours extensively over the continent. Like many Australian Blues musicians, Spiegel brings his unique experience and perspective to his sound. Not exactly canonical, not easily fit into a Blues sub-genre, but distinct and powerful. With Backroads Lloyd Spiegel takes a major step forward in his art and his self expression.
Lloyd Spiegel – guitars/vocals
Tim Burnham – drums
Lyn Bowtell – background vocals
Marty Spiegel, Charlie A’Court, Riley Spiegel – guitar
Lisa Baird – trombone/backing vocals
Levi Harkness – bass
Tony Green, Catherine Wallace – percussion