Blues

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

Mid­dle of the Road Eric Gales Provogue/Mas­cot Jimi Hen­drix dis­ci­ple Eric Gales has re­vealed a new di­men­sion to his un­de­ni­able tal­ent with an in­tro­spec­tive and lay­ered al­bum that is the an­tithe­sis of its rather mun­dane ti­tle.

Mid­dle of the Road sees Gales mix­ing blues with gospel, reg­gae and funk on an al­bum that re­lies as much on rhythm work as it does on the Mem­phis gui­tarist’s rich lead breaks.

Gales de­scribes it as a re­birth af­ter a long ca­reer that be­gan as a child prodigy who recorded his first al­bum at 16 and who was hailed as Gui­tar World’s best new tal­ent for 1991. His play­ing has been praised by heavy-hit­ters such as Car­los San­tana and Joe Bona­massa but there have been se­ri­ous bumps in the road that in­cluded jail time and drug ad­dic­tion.

His 15th stu­dio al­bum, pro­duced by in­dus­try vet­eran Fabrizio Grossi, re­flects a de­ci­sion to take a new route and kicks off with light­hearted ban­ter with the toe-tap­ping, gospel-in­spired blues of Good Times.

There’s some heavy soul-search­ing to come in tracks such as Change in Me (The Re­birth), Help Your­self (with young gui­tarist Chri­s­tone “King­fish” In­gram) and the dark I’ve Been De­ceived. Only one track, Fred­die King’s Boo­gie Man, is a cover and Gales teams with Gary Clark Jr to do it ex­em­plary jus­tice.

Mid­dle of the Road is gen­er­ally smoother and more tex­tured than stu­dio pre­de­ces­sor Good For Sumthin and fea­tures lib­eral use of fe­male back­ing singers. Gales has var­ied the tracks nicely and the fat sound of his so­los, at times be­guil­ing and at oth­ers daz­zling, seems to float above the speak­ers. The al­bum comes to a fit­ting end in the same high gear in which it be­gan thanks to the up-tempo in­stru­men­tal Swamp.

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