Big Toe Productions
10 songs – 53 minutes
Based in Montreal, the Paul DesLauriers Band is a tight, three-piece power blues group who just missed walking away with the 2016 International Blues Challenge championship, finishing the worldwide competition in second place to the Los Angeles-based Delgado Brothers and 117 other acts in the band category.
Led by DesLauriers, a gifted guitarist and vocalist who also adds piano and theremin – the electronic instrument best known for its use on The Twilight Zone TV show, the trio also includes 2105 Maple Blues Award bass player of the year Greg Morency, who doubles on conventional four-string and unusual eight-string instruments, as well as Sam Harrisson, a three-time Maple Blues nominee, Canada’s equivalent of the Blues Music Award, as percussionist of the year.
DesLauriers is an Ontario native who co-founded Black Cat Bone, one of the top rock bands North Of The Border in the ’90s. He’s recorded with Bryan Lee and Dawn Tyler Watson, Canada’s queen of the blues. Harrisson is the all-time record holder for the prestigious Lys Blues Awards, the province of Quebec’s top honor, a statuette Paul has captured five times in addition to his two Maple Blues honors.
The band made their recording debut in 2013 with Enter The Gate, a joint project with sitar master Anwar Khurshid, which fused blues with classical Indian music. The current disc is a follow-up to a self-titled 2014 album that immediately rocketed to the top of the iTunes Canada blues chart. Their music blends rock with straight-ahead blues in a style reminiscent of such ’70s English groups as Humble Pie, Savoy Brown and Foghat. But they take the music to another level via modern stylings and attack that’s pretty much free of clichés.
DesLauriers and partner Alec McElcheran composed the lyrics and the entire band created the charts for the 10 originals on this one. “Stewtro Rock (Just Got Back)” kicks off with an ascending scale before a powerful single-note run before it picks up steam into a driving blues-rocker as it professes “no more drivin’ blind/On an open road.” It concludes with guitar pyrotechnics. The aural texture changes into a much milder boogie for “I’m Your Man” and heats up again for “Ten Feet Tall” before “Still Under My Skin” comes across with a funky swamp-blues feel.
Next up, “Wipes Away Your Sin” is a blues-rock ballad with a medium-tempo, syncopated military beat about fighting off tears in a lonely hotel room after the breakup of a relationship. The theme continues in the bluesy “Up In The Air” before the ensemble bursts out of the gate with “We Just Might,” a rapid-paced boogie of hope as a new relationship gets underway. “If I Still Had You,” a burning eight-minute blues, follows before the funky, two-part “Gonna Make You Move” uses clever lyrical sexual double entendre to bring the set to a close.
Sure, there’s a little shredding going on here, but not much, and it’s taut and well under control. This is one tight, powerful band that deserves a listen, especially if your tastes run to blues-rock. Available through iTunes, Amazon or directly through the band website.