Friday, February 6, 2015

Up From the Underground: Saint James Band's "Always Be With You"

Despite the  Beatles like brightness  to the title track that opens the album, it beats with blues pumping through it's core. This my not be evident in the guitar hooks that bring George Harrison back to life. It is hidden beneath T big layers of backing vocals, as the blues-based solos  at first only color the corners. Soon you will see He is not limited to folk . He blends an array of styles in "Sweet Lovely Darling" you can hear traces of both the Shins and Peter Gabriel in the chord progression. There is ample rock influence in the slide guitar solos and big chords bolstering the choruses. They capture the 60s and 70's vibes in a similar manner to say the Black Crowes.

"Everything is Going to Be Alright"finds the vocals backing off in way more like the slacker sounds of 90s indie rock. Then comes the slight psychedelic tinge to " Silent Partner". The blues driven guitars take more of an Eagles rock angle. The harmonies are always well placed on this album and never over done or used the same way twice. Then the albums begins to make it's big turn.The band goes into a more grassroots feel for a couple of songs, exploring various genres touched on by the clues such as the roadhouse country hybrid "Who You Are" , the closest comparison here might be Neil Young. "Come to the River" is in the same neighborhood as Led Zeppelin's swan dive into the blues on "Led Zeppelin III".

More variations of the blues spin out of "I'm Confused" that takes on a more muscular Texas styled blues. With all this talk of blues it shoulder be noted that the guitar playing on this album is top notch and all the shades of blue are captured with authenticity. This is definatly a guitar players album. Every trick in the book is propped up on the monitor and given the spot light. From the "Gallows Pole" feel of "Better Way" to "Who You Are" they are well versed students of the craft. Not to say it's a hundred percent retro outing. There are some modern rock elements, many of these come closer to those of fellow Led Zeppelin fan Jack White.

The Buddy Guy/ B.B King school of blues is plunged into head first in the shredder  of an instrumental"In Memory Of Elizabeth". This is a perfect ending to the tour of blues this album begins to take you on just before the  mid way point. If guitar solos are not your thing, then the first few songs are still worth a listen, the rest of the album serves as a guitar instructional. Stevie Ray Vaughn and the like did this with still keeping the songs in mind, some where in the 80's rock guitar turned into an athletic event thanks to the Paul Gilberts and Yngwie worship, but Saint James Band gets that a solo is only as good as the song it's in.


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