After doing this reviewing lark for a while, all sorts of things start to drop through your letterbox. Some of them are great, some of them less so. Some artists are familiar, some of them you’ve never heard of. Gary Hoey fell into the unknown category till a few weeks ago, but his new album Dust & Bones is a little gem.
Regular readers may have worked out that I like a bit of variety in my blues, and Hoey does a good job on that front. He serves up a couple of rocked up Delta style tracks, a couple of West Side electric blues-style tunes, some blues rock with epic flavourings, and a moody instrumental, among other things, showing an aptitude for the different styles both vocally and on guitar.
Opener ‘Box Car Blues’ is touted in the PR bumf as a mash-up of Robert Johnson and Led
Zeppelin. Well, up to a
point Lord Copper. It may have a solid,
weighty riff, and an air of ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ in Hoey’s slide
interjections, but he doesn’t really go for the kind of sturm und drang that
Zep would whip up. Instead it’s more
akin to the nifty rock’n’rolling blues of ‘Steamroller’, a worthy, slide-heavy
tribute to Johnny Winters, and later the satisfying boogie of ‘Blind Faith’,
again punctuated with a plethora of slide fills.
|Gary Hoey - not a brat with a Strat|
Meanwhile there’s a witty piece of jump blues in the form of ‘Who’s Your Daddy’, a tale of paternity concerns, of all things, that puts me in mind of the young tyro Andy Poxon, though with more maturity vocally. A similarly effective take on BB King-style good-time blues is apparent on the shuffle of ‘Back Against The Wall’, with some added SRV-ish sizzle to Hoey’s soloing.
‘Coming Home’, a duet with Lita Ford of Runaways fame, recalls Bryan Adams doing ‘I’ll Die For You’, which I can’t say is really my thang, well executed though it may be. More to my taste is ‘Born To Love You’, on which Hoey really goes down Texas way with a barnstorming homage to ZZ Top, complete with a trademark chugging riff and a vocal that could easily be by Billy Gibbons himself.
There’s more of a classic rock vibe to the title track and ‘This Time Tomorrow’, both aspiring to the epic, with occasional hints of Ritchie Blackmore and Robin Trower channelling Hendrix, while ‘Ghost Of Yesterday’ is even more of a hard rock wah-wah outing.
The album closes with the instrumental ‘Soul Surfer’, its rolling bass line from AJ Pappas and restrained drums from Matt Scurfield creating a dreamy, sultry atmosphere into which Hoey injects sparkling lead lines – faintly jazzy, faintly Latino, and faintly evocative of Stevie Ray, this time in laid-back mode.
And that’s it. Ten tracks, 39 minutes, and no over-reaching. Clean production, well-conceived songs, and enjoyable playing. Nothing exotic, nothing too flash. Dust & Bones is just good modern blues, well done.
Dust & Blues is released by Provogue on 29 July.