Chris Ruest – Been Gone Too Long | Album Review

Chris Ruest – Been Gone Too Long

Enviken Records

CD: 13 Songs, 39:05 Minutes

Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, 1950s-Style Blues

Sometimes the simplest things are the best: a walk in the park, a grilled cheese sandwich at a diner, catching up on TV shows after work. New England’s Chris Ruest, now based in Texas, knows this down-home truth and reflects it in his music. It’s classic 1950s-style blues Some of his guitar grooves are reductive, as on the opener, “I’m Goin’ Home.” However, the way to success in so many areas is to find a formula that works. Ruest isn’t trying to be an artiste, but to provide good, solid entertainment. He uses familiar beats (Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry’s on “Run Rudolph Run”) as a template for new lyrics. The only song that can be considered ‘out there’ is the final number, “Jive Talk” (reviewed below). Vocally, he’s in the middle of the talk-singing pack.

Chris doesn’t overact, so to speak, but there’s plenty of expression in his words. His new album, Been Gone Too Long, is perfect to use as background music for tasks one wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. It features two covers and eleven originals to make a baker’s dozen of tasty tunes.

According to his website, “The Connecticut native’s interest in guitar was encouraged by his father and his uncle, jazz musician Louis Mastrobattisto. Ruest began taking lessons at 15, hoping, rather typically, to emulate blues-based rock guitarists Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, but soon discovered the artists who inspired them…After playing around CT between the ages of 17 and 25, Ruest resolved to make music his main priority, gave up his factory job, and relocated to Texas in 1999.

“Ruest’s band has opened for Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Johnny Winter, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats. 2005 brought Ruest’s recording debut as a solo artist.”

Performing alongside lead vocalist and guitarist Ruest are Peter Fröbom on double bass; Mattias Hyttsten on drums; Gene Taylor on piano; Knock-Out Greg on harmonica; Billy Bremmer and John Lindberg on background vocals and guitar; Christian Dozzier on accordion; Martin Borgh on organ, and Chris Bergström on backup vocals and handclap. Guest stars include Marti Brom on female vocals for “Mind Out That Gutter” and Wes Race on vocal rap for “Jivetalk.”

The following songs will get people’s feet moving and their minds grooving.

Track 03: “Henhouse to the Doghouse” – This spicy rock-Zydeco stew is as flavorful as jambalaya, telling what just might happen if one has a fickle (and greedy) romantic partner. “From the henhouse to the doghouse in just about a minute or two, but I guess it’s just a lesson I’m learning from trying to make a living for you.” Dig Christian Dozzier’s awesome accordion.

Track 10: “I Quit” – Taking Chuck Berry’s lead on the riff and rhythm, number ten will have crowds at live festivals and indoor shindigs doing the Twist. When you’ve gone “From the Henhouse to the Doghouse” too many times, the title of this track is what you’ll be shouting. The clear highlight here is Gene Taylor’s barrelhouse piano.

Track 13: “Jivetalk” – Okay, this song’s a rap, but it’s worth it for the disses. The subject in question is someone who’s all jive and no juice. “Last week you were claiming you were still a big shot, but it’s like the hole in your mouth [uh, I think he meant ‘head’] is really all you’ve got. My, my, my…” Great harp here from Knock-Out Greg.

Been Gone Too Long doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to blues, but it doesn’t need to!

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