Alastair Greene – Alive in the New World
Whiskey Bayou Records – 2023
10 tracks; 46 minutes
There are several blues-rockers who seem to be on fire lately, and Alastair Greene is certainly one of them. Greene toured the world as the guitarist for the Alan Parson’s Project for seven years before being drawn closer to the blues. He was Sugaray Rayford’s guitarist for a year, which happened to be the year in which they were nominated for Band of the Year. And he has been focusing most recently on his solo career, turning out four albums and touring the United Kingdom as the opening act in support of Walter Trout. For his latest two albums, (which were released on Whiskey Bayou Records, owned by Tab Benoit and Rueben Williams), his band consisted of Tab Benoit on drums and Corey Duplechin on bass. (Fans of Tab Benoit are already well aware of Duplechin’s artistry on the bass, and most are also aware that Benoit’s first instrument was the drums, and he is as equally gifted at it as he is on the guitar.) These three frequently collaborated when Greene was touring with Benoit and have great chemistry together. That chemistry is accentuated in the latest release, Alive in the New World, because it is clear they are also feeding off the energy of an enthusiastic audience. And the purity of the format of a power-trio highlights the virtuosity of Greene’s playing, which can especially be heard in the solos on “Wontcha Tell Me” and “Heroes”.
Alive in the New World opens with an instrumental number before leading into the songs which offer the thoughtfulness of Greene’s lyrics, (with all songs written by Greene, or co-written with Benoit). There are no simplistic songs about waking up to find one’s baby gone on this album, as Greene clearly felt compelled to offer his articulate commentary on the baffling nature of recent world events. He wrote “Lies and Fears” several years ago, and probably wouldn’t have predicted then how relevant it still would be today: “Come down off your high horse, take a look around. I don’t know why you’re still here. All you spread are lies and fear.” Those sentiments are reinforced with the clever lyrics of “No Longer Amused”: “It should be plain for everyone to see, that this bad reality really wasn’t meant to be. No longer amused!”
However, not one to remain chronically cynical, Greene’s lyrics take an almost spiritual turn for some uplifting songs. In “When you Don’t Know What to Do” he reminds us: “Each day is another chance to let your soul shine bright. When you don’t know what to do, try to do something to make it right…try to give someone a helping hand”. And, in “Living Today” he notes: “Everyone has the blues. The whole world has gone crazy. The whole world has gone mad… Remember to let your love shine through.” In addition, two Greene-Benoit collaborations are particularly beautiful: “Bayou Mile” and “Heroes” (which pays tribute to people who were remarkable influences on others).
Even if you already own these songs on Greene’s first Whiskey Bayou Release, The New World Blues, you will want to hear these versions, which have matured and portray the extra electricity of a live performance. It will be an excellent addition to your blues-rock collection.