The Paul Garner Band – Big Road Blues | Album Review

paulgarnerbandcdThe Paul Garner Band – Big Road Blues

Progressive Roots Records

11 tracks

The Paul Garner Band is Claudio Corona on keyboards, Jason Bibiero on drums and the namesake on vocals and guitar.  Garner is a UK native who flirted with life in New Zealand on a few bases before finally returning to the UK in 2005 to release his second and subsequent albums.  They gave up the double bass for a trio about six or seven years ago; the organ more than aptly substitutes for the bass.  Nine original tunes plus two covers comprise this CD, his third in the UK and fourth overall.  I must comment on the cool packing, showing an Apollo astronaut on a moon rover on the cover and map inside that folds out to present the CD.  The CD is made up like a big tire running down the road.  Very cool!

“Too Much For Love” features Garner fronting with both piano and organ sounds filling up the mix.  It’s a nice medium paced blues where Garner showcases his guitar and interesting voice.  His delivery is a little nasal which gives it a cool edginess.    “7 Waters” gets things fully moving in a fast paced cut where the guitar and keys trade licks in a rocking blues manner.  It’s a whirlwind of blues mélange and a lot of fun.  Next up is “Holes,” an Allman Brothers or John Mayall and the Blues Breakers approach to guitar and organ.  The Holes are in his girls’ shoes and he tells her she’d better walk home.  Next up is “Blues for Vanessa,” a love song for the band’s van. I know artists develop a relationship with their tour vehicles, and apparently Garner needed to memorialize that in song; a stinging instrumental, that is.  The guitar attacks and the organ charges along with it in this gritty and grimy cool blues cut.  “Cold Shoulders” is more another nicely done mid-tempo blues where Garner lays it all out again.  “Icebreaker” is next, slow blues where the cold shoulder has apparently frozen the seas over and made the need for an icebreaking ship. Garner moans as he delivers this, picking out notes and building to a vibrant ending.

The first cover is Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues” with some sweet barrel-house piano introducing an uptempo and cool version of this classic that jumps and jives.  Nice guitar and organ solos and he piano sounds intersperse within it well.  The second cover follows, JB Lenoir’s “The Whale Has Swallowed Me.”  Here Garner and company take a more reserved approach, giving it a bit of flavor of what I’d call “the Caribbean goes Delta Blues.”  “The Road” is another nice original blues with a stinging and clipped sound from Garner’s guitar.  He’s not afraid to advance where the blues go and give us another interesting cut.  The title track is next, a moderately full throttle Kiwi rockabilly sort of blues.  It’s hard to classify, but it’s another song with a nice and original sound.  Mid song things slow as the drums go a bit tribal and then bring us back with a well done solo.  As the organ and guitar build into the drums the song goes into a crescendo of sound and they give us a big finish.  They conclude with “Push a Little Harder,” a slower and sedate longer cut that gives the band a chance to air things out a bit.  I think it’s a bit protracted but ok, perhaps not my best choice to finish with.

All in all this is a very solid modern and progressive sounding blues album by three talented guys.  Edgy and new sounding, Garner and his trio make some good music together that I enjoyed and think most others will, too!  There is little to complain about here and a lot to compliment- this is worth a listen for blues fans looking to see where talented people are taking the blues!

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