Adventures In Bluesland,  the newest release from New York-based singer/guitarist Phil Gammage, isn’t what I was expecting, to be frank, and it’s a great/pleasant surprise.  I was prepared for a heavy blues-rock sound, but this is much more a “classic” and “natural” sounding affair.

To start this album off with a very Grand Ole Opry-styled rendition of “Trying To Get To You” was an inspired choice, right down to the ’50’s/’60’s-sounding production.  There’s something very old-fashioned in Phil’s style.  While the solos have a Stevie Ray Vaughan-ness in the tone of the slide guitar runs, it’s as if an old recording has modern embellishments – and that makes an interesting balance.  “What Tomorrow Brings” is a perfect example; restrained backing; great harmonies on the chorus and a dive-bomb solo with fire; “Ain’t That Something” is a quiet, moody number straight out of 1957.  A nice, down-home version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” kicks with taut, yet jittery brushes on the drums and the heavy but tightly-wound riff – very Texas honky tonk and very much a highlight of this album; “Kills Me When You’re Gone” is a rich, tense rocker with a strident arrangement and melody.  “Baby Let Me Follow Down” (known to most of us as the revamped “Baby Let Me Take You Home” by The Animals) is a pure country feast – pedal slide riffs, harmonica and a sound straight out of Monument Records.

Nothing short of pure American – blues and country roots run deep and felt strongly with these performances.  Adventures In Bluesland is not so much an adventure but a pleasurable listening trip.



About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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