It’s rare in 2015 to find an artist who’s straight-up blues. So many would-be blues artists (would-be meaning “would have been 50 or 60 years ago) feel pressured by currently radio trends and genre constraints to melt in a little pop, rock, or even country; blues just ain’t what it used to be, even though it’s debatable that more people than ever have the blues.
Not Tony Fazio. The Berklee grad who’s performed with the likes of Memphis Gold, Bobby Parker, and Charlie Sayles (who guests), stays true to the blues. His new album, Another Way, is only seven tracks long, but it’s enough to squeeze in some epic and, dare I say, blues virtuosity. Opener “So What” features that legendary shuffling backbeat, a ripping guitar solo, and dismissive lyrics evidenced by the title. Fazio’s voice itself is a bit Randy Newman-ish (a good thing), but has enough of that smokey growl to authenticate himself and give an extra shot of power to tracks like the vindictive “Liar.” The beauty of his voice, however, is how it’s chameleonlike in its tones and range, skewing sweeter on “Brand New Way” and “Home.” My very favorite track, however, is “Watch Out,” a guitar-heavy instrumental that never veers into that self-indulgent jammy territory that casual listeners dread.
In fact, I would go so far as to say if you’re even slightly interested in the blues, start with the classics, then move onto Fazio. Not only is his album a refreshing change of pace, but it’s also a refresher in a timeless genre bastardized by modern radio. So there.