Stef Paglia – Never Forget
House Of Tone Production
Starting at the age of twelve, guitarist Stef Paglia has steadily been building his career. He has been a member of the Bluesbones, recording three albums with the group. They also won the 2016 Belgian Blues Challenge. For his first solo effort, Paglia gets help in the songwriting department from his girlfriend, Iris Teunissen, who handled the lyrical content while Paglia composed the music. His rhythm section consists of Geert Schurmans on bass guitar and Joel Purkess on drums. The project was recorded at the Superfly Studios in the U.K. with Wayne Proctor as producer.
Like many contemporary musicians marketing themselves in the blues genre, Paglia’s approach shows a wide range of influences, with blues often taking a backseat. He turns in a straight-forward cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Freedom,” complete with multi-tracked backing vocals and guitar guitar parts that also highlights his strong, confident vocal style. The opening track, “Watch Out,” packs a punch with ringing guitar chords, followed by “Take Me Away,” which rocks hard one minute before shifting to a more soulful vein. Purkess lays down a muscular rhythm on “Dirty Woman,” with Paglia relating the familiar tale of a mistreating member of the opposite sex, using his instrument to complete a raging exorcism of emotions.
“Crush On You” rolls along with black cats, Cadillacs, and some smooth slide guitar work that moves this track closer to blues side of the spectrum. Paglia utilizes a wah-wah pedal on “Death Tree,” a song that starts as a quiet, lovely ballad before the band erupts on the chorus, shredding the introspective mood, especially when Paglia delivers another fiery outburst. The meditative instrumental “Mystery Heaven” is built around Paglia’s memorable slide string-bending. “The Unknown” is a weaker track, sounding like a poor-man’s interpretation of Stevie Ray Vaughan legacy. Paglia continues to display his impressive guitar skills when the proceedings return to the land of anthem-like rockers on “Twilight,” and they finish up with “Warmth Instead Of Gold,” a quieter number with Paglia showing that he does have some blues chops.
Some consider the blues world to be a big tent, with room for everyone. Others fear that the music will suffer if the traditional sounds are comprised too much. Stef Paglia is one of the artists that push the definition of the music. He definitely is a strong singer and a fine guitarist. As to whether not or it is blues is for you, the listener, to decide.