Chris Duarte Group – Lucky 13 | Album Review

chrisduartecdChris Duarte Group – Lucky 13

Blues Bureau International BB2092-2

14 songs – 1 hour 18 minutes

Chris Duarte delivers a strong dose of pyrotechnics in this collection of 14 original tunes. This is his seventh CD on the Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau International imprint, home of several crossover guitar masters, including Leslie West, Rick Derringer, Eric Gales and Pat Travers, and, not coincidentally, the 13th in his extensive catalog. It features a heavy dose of blues with the same strong, searing psychedelic, rock and jazz overtones that fans have come to love since he emerged from San Antonio, Texas, moved to Austin in the mid-‘90s and ascended to prominence following the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Recorded at Count’s Desert Moon Studios in Las Vegas, Duarte delivers all the material here in his normal power trio alignment, aided by John McKnight and Kevin Vecchione on drums and bass. Buckle your seatbelts for the deluge of riffs that begin with “You Know You’re Wrong.” The song is delivered from the point of view of a man whose woman is gone for good. It begins mildly enough with a blues jam feel, but quickly erupts into a solid six-minute flurry of six-string magic complete with a strong Jimi Hendrix feel. It includes a rapid-fire run of single notes that will have many less skilled guitarists shaking their heads in disbelief.

The rocker “Angry Man” leads into “Crazy For Your Love.” The pace slows and the riffs become less frenetic as Duarte yearns for the love of a woman in this loping, Texas-flavored blues. The sound changes dramatically for “Who Loves You,” delivered with a Texas-meets-California feel established by T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown. Duarte’s fretwork here is the closest you’ll hear to old school, and it definitely rocks in the best possible way. “Here I Come” is a bluesy pop song in which Chris playfully makes fun of his looks, but insists there’s “No stop-stop-stoppin’ me, ‘cause here I come.”

Fans of extended burning slow blues will be particularly interested in “Let It Go,” a nine-minute showcase of Duarte’s ability to deliver sweet, sensitive runs amidst the fury of fretwork on previous tunes. In this one, he urges an ex-lover to release him, stating that he can’t make it in life while she still “owns the keys to me.” Rock blues dominates “Man Up” before the rhythm section lays down a solid rhythm pattern and Chris jams out “Not Chasing It” with Frank Zappa overtones.

Layered atop a hard, funky beat, “Weak Wheels” sings the praises of the legendary muscle car, the Shelby Cobra, before Duarte returns to his Texas roots with “Ain’t Gonna Hurt No More.” The three-tune “Meus Via Vita Suite” – “Let’s Go For A Ride,” “Minefield Of My Mind” and “Setting Sun” – is a progressive rock-blues opus that goes from pop to progressive to ballad format, harboring back to music of the psychedelic era, before Chris adapts John Coltrane themes for the concluding blues shuffle instrumental, “Jump The Trane.”

Always interesting, never boring. It’s blues. It’s rock. It’s something else altogether. But it’s solid throughout. Duarte doesn’t disappoint as he continues to redefine the power blues trio idiom.


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