Shaw Davis & The Black Ties – Tales From The West
Chin Music Records
This is the second release from this South Florida Band. Shaw Davis and his band competed last year at the IBC. Davis does vocal work and plays guitar while Patrick Stevenson also supports the vocals and plays bass and Bobby Van Stone plays drums and helps on vocals, too. Two covers and nine originals are included here.
The CD opens with “Take My Hand,” which starts with a nice bass riff. A heavy rocker, this one gets the listener’s attention with the driving beat. The 1969 Frank Zappa blues rocker is basically turned into a heavy metal song. I was never a huge Zappa fan, but this does not do the cut justice unless you are looking for heavy hard rock licks and death metal-styled lyrics. Not my cup of tea, but maybe there is a listener base for this. The guitar work was, however, very good. Next is the title cut, a rock ballad that intensifies and turns into a big, stadium rocker. “Mama Told Me” is another massive rock guitar work. The vocals start with some restraint, but the guitar holds nothing back and works through to a stratospheric solo. Following that is another heavy rocker, “Fire Inside.” No blues again, but they show off some more big guitar riffs and licks.
“Know Where You’ve Been” is another slower but driving cut with over amped vocals and heavy guitar and backline support. The guitar solo has no air between the notes, with shredding to the max as the sound they are looking for here. Meh. The next tune is “Atomic Groove” where I feared they’d take it up to even higher notches of hard, hard rocking. Things began slowly and calmly so I was settled in before they let all hell break loose with more shredding and stadium rock antics. They showed some interesting variety within it stylistically, but it’s really just more hard rock and shredding. Junior Kimbrough’s “I Gotta Try You Girl” was next. I was hoping for blues to finally appear, but alas they only emulated the Kimbrough guitar sound a bit. They lacked some of the distortion that Junior was known for, but it was similar. Buddy Guy covered it turned it somewhat psychedelic with the vocals and pedal work in his version. The vocals were more restrained here and I liked them, but they still had to add a big shredding solo and stratospheric guitar here and there to the cut; otherwise, I loved the guitar work here. Not too bluesy in style, it still packs a punch. The set concludes with “My Friend.” The song starts softly and somberly, not really blues but a pleasant sort of rock. At about 2-1/2 minutes in the gears change and again hell breaks loose. The guitar goes way over the top as do the vocals. This goes on for over 5 more minutes before things conclude.
Listed as a “powerhouse blues-rock trio,” after listening to this I can’t say that any of the songs really represent the blues. This is hard rock with a Frank Zappa cover that gets way, way into the metal genre. So if you want traditional blues or even blues rock, you won’t find any here. If you like shredding and over the top guitar and vocals, this is for you. If you are looking for anything that even remotely resembles the blues at times, this is not it.