Dave Fields – Force Of Will
10 songs – 40 minutes
Dave Fields is one of those artists who is always taking his listeners to new and unexpected places, whilst still keeping one foot very much in the blues. Force Of Will is Fields’ sixth album and it’s a blues-rock tour de force.
Opening with the ZZ Top-esque heavy shuffle of “I Love My Baby”, the follow-up track, “Big Blocks” is a primarily instrumental workout featuring Steve Morse band drummer, Van Romaine, and Rick Derringer bassist, Buddy Allen. With some startling lead guitar playing, a powerful Hammond organ solo, a variety of tempo changes and irresistible drive from the rhythm section, it’s like listening a modern day, more focussed Deep Purple. “Hunger” brings the pace but not the intensity down, with a threatening groove based on Fields’ heavily distorted guitar playing. It’s the next stage in the evolutionary process of Muddy’s “Rollin’ Stone”, via Jimi’s “Voodoo Chile” and Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, with a solo that tips its hat to Jeff Beck in the way Fields abuses his whammy bar.
There are also hints of Beck in the guitar solos on the slower “Why Can’t You Treat Me Right” which contains a lovely vocal performance from Fields, while the bopping title track is one of the foot-tapping songs that must pack dance floors in a live environment. It’s also a great example of Field’s ability to write songs that fall squarely into the blues-rock category but that also offer something different either in their construction or their execution. This is not one of those albums packed with clichéd blues-rock tropes. There is a rare vitality and energy in the playing that sits nicely with the smartly-written material. Fields is also a righteous guitar player who knows exactly when to show off his chops and when to rein it in for the benefit of the song.
The funky “Chloe & Otis”, co-written by Fields and Vlad Barsky, heads in a jazz-funk direction, while “Delmar” is a one and a half minute solo guitar tribute to the late NYC jazz legend, Delmar Brown that channels Hendrix with a hint of Eric Johnson. The instrumental “Jack Ham Her” nods towards Jeff Beck’s late 70s collaborations with Jan Hammer, enabling Fields to show off his virtuosic side. The closing track, “Best I Can” mixes a catchy blues-rock groove with something of a soul groove and is a fine way to close out a very enjoyable album.
None of the CD cover, the accompanying press release or Fields’ website contain much information about the other musicians on the album, other than that, in addition to Romaine and Allen, Norwegian blues stalwarts Kåre Amundsen (drums) and Bjørn Hågset (bass) provide the superb backing on the dark blues of “It’s Not OK”. This is something of a shame, because whoever the musicians are, they produce a series of top notch grooves over which Fields can lay down his incendiary guitar.
Force Of Will is a very entertaining release that bears repeated listening. Mixed, arranged, produced and mastered by Fields at Fields Music studios on the lower east side of NYC, Force Of Will has a vitality and vigour that befits its title. Recommended.