Laurence Jones – Take Me High
Ruf Records 2016
10 tracks; 44 minutes
Laurence Jones received the accolade of “Young Artist Of The Year” in the British Blues Awards in 2014 and 2015 and is probably the fastest rising star of the UK blues-rock circuit at the present time. Still in his early twenties, this is Laurence’s fourth CD release and after having Mike Zito produce his sophomore release Temptation in 2014 this time around it is legendary producer Mike Vernon behind the controls, having been lured out of semi-retirement in Spain for this project. The album features Laurence’s touring band of Phil Wilson on drums and Roger Inniss on bass, plus Bob Fridzema (King King) helping out on keys. Guests Paul Jones (once lead singer of Manfred Mann and now the host of the main blues radio show in the UK) plays harp and soul/Rn’B man Reuben Richards sings on one track each.
Laurence’s vocals continue to develop positively but his music is firmly at the rock end of the blues-rock spectrum, as can be heard on the opening trio of “Got No Place To Go”, “Something’s Changed” and “Live It Up”, the first two featuring ear-melting solos, the third’s fast-paced tune, reinforced by the swirling organ, a catchy tune but also featuring some wild guitar flourishes. “Addicted To Your Love” shares a title with an old Robert Palmer hit but is Laurence’s tune with grungy guitar to the fore as Laurence confesses to his obsession with the lady here. So far the pace has barely faltered but “I Will” is a pleasant interlude with good harmony vocals, a catchy riff and a more restrained solo, a strong track. Also less rocky is “Thinking About Tomorrow” which opens with acoustic guitar as Laurence sings gently about his positive view of what is to come. We then return to a rockier feel with the title track “Take Me High” which has Laurence’s ringing guitar doubling his vocal which is definitely his toughest on the album and “Down & Blue” is another heavy track. “The Price I Pay” opens with Phil’s drums and its funky feel is enlivened by Paul Jones’ harp fills before the album closes with the sole cover, Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” which has vocals from Reuben Richards, the band setting a solid pace on the tune which sticks reasonably close to the original apart from the guitar solo.
This album will further consolidate Laurence’s position in the UK and Europe where blues-rock is definitely what the public wants. US fans who dig the rockier end of the blues should also enjoy this one.