Cordova Bay Records – 2015
10 tracks; 42 minutes
Guitarist David Gogo remains relatively unknown to US audiences though he tours in his native Canada and Europe regularly. He produced his first album in 1994 and in the intervening 22 years has produced albums in band and acoustic formats; Vicksburg Call is his fourteenth. David plays guitar and handles all lead vocals with Jay Stevens on bass, backing vocals and occasional piano and Bill Hicks on drums. Rick Hopkins adds Hammond to some tracks, Marisha Devoin acoustic bass and Shelley Beeston and Jona Kristinsson add backing vocals to one cut. Special guests Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown plays guitar and Shawn Hall of The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer play harp on one track each. David wrote six songs and there are four covers.
David has always had a rock aspect mixed in with the blues and this album opens with a trio of ‘heavy’ numbers. David’s slide “Cuts Me To The Bone” on the opener which really rocks out over a thumping core riff from the rhythm section. Kim adds his ax to David’s on the heavy blues of “Fooling Myself” and there is some tough soloing here. “The Loner” was always a strong rock tune in the hands of its author Neil Young and David increases that with an even rockier version here, complete with some heavily distorted guitar effects.
After that opening salvo David brings things back to a quieter vision of the blues with a convincing take on Victor Anthony’s “There’s A Hole” on which Shawn’s mournful harp adds considerably to the moody atmosphere created by David’s resonator work. One suspects that David must have listened to a lot of West Coast rock in his youth as Steve Stills’ “Jet Set (Sigh)” follows up “The Loner” (itself covered by Stills on one of his solo albums) with some more wild guitar breaking out over the chugging rhythm and an excellent vocal from David.
The second half of the album is more melodic as David asks “What’s Not To Like?” in terms of his intended lady with the trio augmented by Rick’s Hammond, David playing some excellent slide on a catchy ear-worm of a song. “Our Last Goodbye” goes to the other end of the scale in terms of relationships, David reminiscing about his last summer together with his girl. The gentle tune starts with acoustic guitar, David overdubbing some slide parts and a fine electric solo as the backing vocalists come in with the Hammond on the chorus – a strong song.
The title track was written by David with E. Johnson and is clearly intended to draw us back to the Delta. It’s another strong song with David’s ringing guitar underpinned by the rhythm section, David recounting a tale of meeting a girl in Vicksburg and now he is “down in Louisiana, waiting on that Vicksburg call” – clearly she left a big impression in a short space of time on David who takes out his frustrations in a short but violent solo. We then get some classic rock and roll in “Coulda Shoulda Woulda” which is great fun in a short and snappy 2.37.
Annie Lennox’s “Why” at first seems an odd choice to close the album but it works well, David sounding genuinely sorry about how the relationship has gone – a touching song played here with great feel, as demonstrated by the closing section where David’s guitar and Rick’s Hammond are quite beautiful.
Overall an album with a range of styles. David Gogo shows here that he has both a sensitive side and a wild rocker contained within the one body. Probably a bit rockier than some of his albums, there are nevertheless plenty of gentler, melodic moments to fit alongside the heavier moments.