Toronto based guitar slinger Dan McKinnon is well versed in blues and rock. Featuring a power trio with McKinnon on guitar and vocals, Aaron Carter on bass and Jon Foster on drums, all ten songs are originals by McKinnon on his inaugural CD. This thirty-something musician is a hot commodity on the local music scene in Ontario and has a great 1970’s sort of blues rock sound going for him.
“Ain’t Looking Back” opens the CD with a driving guitar and breathy vocals. McKinnon claims he’s not looking back in his goodbye to his ex-love; he offers up the first of his massive guitar solos and he does deliver the goods here with nice tone, feeling and some air between the notes. “King of the Hill” could be a song from a band like Mountain. It has a similar big and dirty sound to the guitar. Vocally, McKinnon has a fairly high register and delivers his lyrics well. Another nice solo is performed on the ax here, too.
On Lucky One” the tempo drops a bit as McKinnon sings more soulfully and expressively to match the tone of the song. He returns to the big, driving beat on “Got It Bad,” reminiscent of perhaps a Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Johnny Lang here. He goes to the slow blues on “Killing Time;” the guitar crys out and speaks to us sweetly on the intro. His delivery here is again filled with soul as he states he’s “done killing time” with this ending relationship that he sings about. A nice and poignant guitar solo is also offered up in this.
“Heart Attack” takes the beat and heat back up as Foster lays out a fast beat and then McKinnon joins in with another big guitar lead. Amusingly, he uses the idea of a heart attack to express the intensity of his love for his woman. “Perfect Ten” might be a Buddy Guy song; the guitar licks and sound to open up the cut really reminded me of Buddy.
He sings of his woman who is a perfect 10 and stays with the positive relationship stuff from “Heart Attack.” “Recipe” is a slick instrumental with a great little groove to it. He returns to the roots and passion of deep blues with “One Regret.” Super vocals and a nicely picked guitar solo are the big features here. He closes with the jumping and jiving beat of “A Different Road” as his guitar wails while Carter and Foster along with McKinnon whip things up into a frenzied state.
As Sharp As Possible was named the 2013 Canadian Blues Debut Album of the Year and third best Blues/Rock album of the year by the Blues Underground Network. I can see why given the great set of songs and performances by McKinnon and his mates.
If you like your blues rocking, you will certainly find something you like on this gentleman’s debut album!