Guy Tortora – Bluesman In A Boneyard | Album Review

guytortoracdGuy Tortora – Bluesman In A Boneyard

Turtledove Records

9 songs time-47:48

This London based former resident of Pasadena, California has a firm grip on American Roots music. With the help of his European band and various guests he traverses genres ranging from blues, roots music, New Orleans R&B, folk and Cajun among others. The seven original songs are well crafted with attention to lyrical content and musical nuance. Guy is well versed on acoustic, electric and slide guitars along with mandolin. He is also possesses a voice that can be gruff or smooth as each song requires and occasionally both traits appear in one song.

The exquisite piano of Janos Bajtala sets up a Tango as drummer Pete Hedley introduces shuffling drums to kick off “The Damage Was Done”. Guy’s slide guitar and Giles Hedley on harmonica contribute to the musical mélange. The lyric comments on the universal travails of love. Blind Willie Johnson’s “What Is The Soul Of A Man” is given a jazzy treatment with Graham Pike adding haunting trumpet over Janos’ piano playing.

“Boneyard” with its’ descriptive lyrics and dramatic vocal delivery essentially serves as the title track. The narrator seeks out the resting place of a bluesman. Guy can really set up a scene with his lyrics as to where they have a cinematic quality. Sleepy John Estes’ “Going To Brownsville” finds Guy on mandolin and foot stomp with Ben Tyzak on slide guitar and harmonica. It’s taken at a slow pace highlighted by Guy’s voice over slow instrumental interplay that is nothing short of mesmerizing and well separated in the aural mix.

The tale of the spread of the South’s demon insect is told in “Ballad Of The Boll Weavil” and it morphs into a fantasy as the boll weavil is given a sinister human persona. A dramatic vocal along with equally dramatic slide guitar add to the atmospherics. The stop and start quality of “Live Fast” gives way to some mournful violin courtesy of Gemma Sharples. The sprightly pace of “One Way Ticket” contributes to the best Bob Dylan song that Mr. Zimmerman never wrote, as Guy captures Dylan’s vocal cadence circa the “Blonde On Blonde” era.

Un-credited horns pop up on “From The Heart” along with second-line drumming from Pete Hedley and some blistering electric guitar soloing from Guy. The Cajun-flavored “Les Bon Temps” features Phil Underwood on accordion and some tasty slide guitar from Guy as he describes a slice of Louisiana’s life style.

Guy Tortora and cohorts have succeeded to create an authentic sounding program of American roots music. The lyrics are fresh and original atop well performed and arranged musicality. This CD is without a doubt worthy of anyone’s record collection.

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